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Higher Certificate in Community Development

(Minimum 2 years, 120 credits)


This is a two-year part-time programme for those who are currently employed in the sector to enhance their knowledge, skills and competence in order to conduct/ demonstrate professional practice and implement effective and context-specific development strategies in the communities whom they serve.

Mode of delivery


Time Commitment

Two years of part-time
January and July intakes


Registered as Cornerstone Institute (RF) NPC with the Department of Higher Education and Training as a private higher education institution under the Higher Education Act, 1997, Registration Certificate No. 2001/HE08/006; NQF 5; SAQA ID 96415.

Important Links




Admission Requirements

  • A National Senior Certificate or National Certificate Vocational (with certificate pass)
  • A Matriculation Certificate or equivalent
  • Mature age of 45 years can be admitted, determined by the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) portfolio of evidence provided 
  • The National Benchmark Test (NBT) results.
  • A minimum of 4 years of experience in the area of community development.

Charmaine Iwu is Programme Co-ordinator of the Sociology and Community Development and Lecturer for Cornerstone Institute. She is a recent graduate of CPUT and holds a Master’s in Education (MEd). She focussed on Teacher education in South Africa. She was introduced to the world of Education and training when her own studies began. With her love of Mathematics and Academic Literacy, which she channelled by tutoring during her undergrad and Honours studies at UWC, this gave her the impetus to pursue a career in Education and Training. Charmaine participated in the Centre for International Teacher Education (CITE) research unit based in CPUT as a student and research trainee. This internship was an incredible learning experience which culminated in her Masters. Her previous degrees in Public Administration with a focus on Policy and Legislation afforded her the opportunity to work in the Sociology and Community development department at Cornerstone.

Students who have completed the qualification should be able to:

  • Apply effective leadership and management principles in community projects
  • Evaluate the nature and sources of conflict and identify and apply methods of appropriate resolution methods
  • Develop monitoring and evaluation processes and frameworks for project analysis
  • Discuss and evaluate the different approaches to rural and urban development among poor communities
  • Identify key role players and resources in communities and identify strategies for mobilising communities and resources
  • Identify and apply best practice community participation methods for specific development projects
  • Design and execute a practical community needs analysis leading to a project in which the learner engages through participation and reflection.

Module Descriptions

Higher Certificate in Community Development (NQF5)

Introduction to Sociology of Development (6 credits)
The aim of this module is to broaden the perspective of the student by introducing the student to how societies develop. This module also sensitises the student for the global perspective and the impact of globalisation on local contexts. Case studies will reveal that
development is equated to change, a phenomenon that often has both positive and negative effects on local communities.

Introduction to Community Development (6 credits)
The aim of this module is to lay the conceptual foundation for further in-depth discussions on community development issues. This module introduces a critical review of frequently used and sometimes abused concepts related to the community development discipline. The underlying meaning of popular community development jargon such as bottom-up development, grassroots participation, and good governance will be critically revisited and debated to set the scene for further modules in community development.

Perspectives on Social Transformation (6 credits)
This module reviews several perspectives on social transformation processes. The module covers different ways of thinking about development as transformation including people centred development, development as freedom and development as a response to powerlessness.

Understanding Poverty (6 credits)
In this module the student is introduced to poverty, particularly as it relates to community development. Various definitions of poverty and causes of poverty will be explored, as well as models for poverty alleviation.

Urban and Rural Development (12 credits)
This module seeks to explore in depth the dynamics that are involved in cities as unique spaces of social interaction on the one hand, and those involved in rural areas on the other. Urban social development issues are discussed from various perspectives, including
economic, social and political factors that impact urban life. The module accords special attention to the impact of urbanisation on the poor, elderly, youth, and other marginalised groups. It also seeks to help students outline the challenges facing rural development in developing countries and in South Africa in particular.

Resource Mobilisation and Funding (6 credits)
The module will introduce students to the fundamental principles and tools for fundraising as well as a framework to understand resource mobilisation. It will outline the important difference between fundraising and resource mobilisation, and why development efforts usually focus on the latter.

Community Research Methods (6 credits)
This module aims to orientate the student to participatory research (i.e., its tools,
techniques and methodologies), with the goal of helping a community identify a problem, collect and analyse information, and act upon the problem in order to find solutions and to promote social and political transformation. The module will implement participatory tools of secondary resources, direct observation and semi-structured interviewing.

Leadership in Development Projects (6 credits)
This module explores the theory and practice of leadership and management in the context of development projects. At the end of the module students should be able to: discuss the importance of leadership within the community development process, identify their own weaknesses and strengths as a leader, explain various ways in which leadership can be developed in communities and identify and evaluate leadership style and dynamics in an organisation/community of the student’s choice.

Community Mobilisation (6 credits)
To “own” something means taking responsibility for it. Ownership of community projects is vital for sustainable development. But how is it done? To mobilise the community in line with positive development activities is an aim of most development projects. This module
will look at best practices and bad practices in this regard to highlight the value of community participation as a prerequisite for community mobilisation.

Monitoring and Evaluation of Community Projects (6 credits)
This module aims at equipping development workers in government, NGOs and other organisations with skills, knowledge and the necessary attitudes for effective results-based monitoring and evaluation of development programmes. This module highlights the concepts, roles, purposes and processes of monitoring and evaluation in development projects and seeks to equip learners to engage and plan more effectively with evaluations.

Ethics and Professionalism (6 credits)
This module is designed to help the student develop a practical understanding of ethical issues in community development work. The philosophical and historical bases of ethics are examined and professional rules and policies are evaluated in light of ethical principles. Students are encouraged to examine their personal worldview, values, beliefs, and behaviour related to current moral, social and professional issues.

Conflict Resolution (6 credits) 
This module introduces students to the theory and practice of conflict resolution and teaches them specific communication skills to enhance their relationships. Students are provided with the opportunity to explore their attitude towards conflict and to reflect on
their personal approach to conflict. The module makes use of case studies to assist students to reflect on the strategies, tactics and approaches used during conflict situations and emphasises the link between communications, behaviour and conflict.

Intercultural Communication (6 credits)
This module seeks to introduce the student to the fundamentals of intercultural communication, especially as they relate to work in cross-cultural settings. In this module, the concepts of culture, worldview, values and belief systems and power will be examined.
A key theme is the reflection on the impact of our interventions in other cultures, and the necessary cultural attitudes required to work effectively in cross-cultural settings.

Project Management (6 credits)
This module aims to orientate students’ to the field of project management through exploring the principles, methods, tools and techniques required in order to plan, organize, control and direct the activities of a project in an effective manner. The module will be
praxis orientated with a focus on how management techniques are adapted to exercise more effective control over existing resources.

Academic Reading and Writing (12 credits)
This module concentrates on the skills needed for successful tertiary study. Special attention is paid to listening and reading for comprehension, writing clearly and logically, and giving proper credit to sources utilized. These essential skills will be developed through exposure to readings and talks, and practise these skills in a supportive environment with detailed feedback. This module enables students’ to develop their critical thinking ability in order to source and evaluate academic material. Students will understand plagiarism and referencing and learn to write and reference a structured academic paper.

Information and Technology Skills (4 credits)
Through this module students will learn to use a computer for emails, internet, word processing, spreadsheet development and electronic presentation suites. This will enable students to access the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) known as Funda, which is used by Cornerstone for communication with lecturers and administrative purposes, as well as research and submission of assignments.

Community Fieldwork (20 credits)
Fieldwork is a community-based extension of the academic programme. The fieldwork is designed to be a multi-disciplinary application of what has been learnt theoretically during one’s studies. As such it measures the practical capabilities of the student within a field or sphere of learning.

Higher Certificate in Community Development (NQF5)

  • Introduction to Sociology of Development (6 credits)
  • Introduction to Community Development (6 credits)
  • Perspectives on Social Transformation (6 credits)
  • Understanding poverty (6 credits)
  • Urban and Rural Development (6 credits)
  • Fundraising and Resource Mobilisation (6 credits)
  • Community Research Methods (6 credits)
  • Leadership in Development Projects (6 credits)
  • Community Mobilisation (6 credits)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation of Community Projects (6 credits)
  • Project Management (6 credits)
  • Ethics (6 credits)
  • Conflict Resolution (6 credits)
  • Intercultural Communication (6 credits)
  • Community Fieldwork (20 credits)
  • Academic Reading and Writing (12 credits)
  • Information and Technology Skills (4 credits)

Module descriptions and credits

For a description of each module, see ‘Module descriptions’ herewith above. Otherwise, get in touch with us via helpdesk for further inquiries.

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