After determining the content and objectives for training, it is necessary to develop a training plan which describes how the training programme will be conducted. A training plan is similar to a blueprint for constructing a house in that it shows what is to be constructed, and the methods and materials that are needed to build it. Similarly, a training plan identifies the results - the behaviours required of THPs to provide PHC services - and lists the activities and educational materials that are necessary to accomplish these results. The plan should also include a time schedule and indicate in what order the sessions should be presented.
The training plan should be divided into sessions with a lesson plan written for each session. Lesson plans contain one or more learning objectives, the materials and methods to be used, and a list of steps or a description of exactly how each session is to be conducted.
It is very important to design a training plan that will create learning experiences that are meaningful to the participants. The following guidelines will help you do this:
1. Group the knowledge and skills to be taught in a logical pattern according to the content and subject matter.
For example, the content for teaching TBAs might be grouped according to birthing skills, prenatal care, postnatal care, recognizing and referring serious conditions, community-oriented health education activities, and so forth. For herbalists and other THPs, it might be appropriate to group the health content according to other categories, such as the collection, preservation and use of medicinal plants, organizing community groups to improve water and sanitation, and so forth.
2. Integrate the teaching of new ideas about health, when possible, with indigenous beliefs about health and illness.
For example, the teaching of oral rehydration solution, nutrition, breast-feeding, safe water and sanitation, personal hygiene, immunization and psychological and physical well-being can often be explained as being similar to widely held indigenous concepts of healing. These can include the importance of balance and harmony in life; protecting oneself against dangers and illness from outside sources; and the use of natural herbs and medicines. THPs, like other people, learn more easily if new things are related to things they already know.
3. Present the content to the trainees on a gradual scale.
Begin with the most basic or simple ideas and proceed to the more complex. For example, when teaching THPs how to recognize dangerous symptoms of disease, begin with those illnesses that are the most easy and obvious to recognize, such as diarrhoea and malnutrition, and then proceed to introduce more complex ones, such as HIV and AIDS. Start with what is already familiar to the participants and then add to that the more difficult ideas. Learning is like climbing a ladder - it is done by taking one step at a time.
It is helpful to prioritize information and skills in terms of what participants must learn, and what would be useful to learn to make certain all basic and important items are covered during earlier sessions. If too much content is presented too fast, participants cannot assimilate it all and can become overwhelmed. It is better to present fewer important items that are well understood than try to cover too many points quickly. Many training projects have conducted an initial basic training and then consolidated several weeks or months later with follow up or refresher sessions.
4. Present the information in brief time periods.
Information presentations should not take more than 20 to 30 minutes. They should be followed by activities that enable participants to practice some aspect of what has been presented. You can get trainees more involved in the following ways:
• a question-answer session;
• a general discussion on the subject;
• a demonstration that involves the participants;
• a role-play with participants;
• a practise session with small groups.
5. Follow theory with practice.
Studies on learning indicate that we recall about 20% of what we hear, 40% of what we hear and see, and 80% of what we can discover for ourselves. Practice reinforces learning, and every opportunity should be taken in training to have participants practise the ideas that have been taught. An old Chinese Proverb still applies:
I heard and I forgot
I saw and I remembered
I did and I learned...