OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Soul City - Edutainment and Social Learning Theory

In Africa the TV show Soul City has harnessed the power of social learning theory (learning through seeing) to combat domestic violence, increase the use of birth control, and reduce xenophobia.

Photo of Charlotte Cramer
5 7

Written by

Soul City – It's Real is the  flagship television show of Soul City Institute which has become one of South Africa’s most loved television shows over the past 17 years. Set in the fictional Soul City township, the series mirrors the social and development challenges faced by poor communities everywhere. It weaves health and social issues into real-life stories for the millions of people who have grown to trust the powerful messages of this very popular programme.

Over the years, the Soul City Institute has been able to demonstrate consistent impact in relation to knowledge, attitudes, shifting social norms, increasing dialogues about issues and behaviour change.

The Institute does extensive research, recent impact findings show that some 83% of those exposed to Soul City multi-media professed willingness to help people on ARV treatment, compared to 67% in a control group – a 16% attributable difference.

Some 31% of those who had read Soul City print material had taken a test in the preceding year compared to 23% in a matched control group – an 18% attributable difference.

Exposure to one of the Soul City interventions shows 6% - 8% increase in use of condoms specifically to prevent HIV. This outcome is consistent with the health promotion messages of Soul City and is a significant achievement.

In 2009, Soul City launched a new kind of television called Kwanda – Communities with Soul. Kwanda is a community makeover show, which saw volunteer teams recruited across South Africa. 

They were filmed as they worked together to address some of the biggest challenges faced by their communities: reducing new HIV infections, helping orphans and vulnerable children, reducing alcohol abuse and alcohol related violence, generating income and creating job opportunities.

Impact data from 2007:

Exposure to Soul City TV was associated with a 16% increase in people willing to help those on ARV treatment and a 19% increase in people willing to care for someone ill with AIDS.

Soul City radio was responsible for an additional 35% of people helping a child in a care-giving situation as a result of AIDS illness or death in the family.

Soul City 7 was effective in achieving between 2% and 16% improvement on measures of stigma.

Radio, print and multi-media interventions were responsible for 5% - 8% increases in people tested for HIV in the preceding year.

Soul City print materials had content specifically focusing on reducing behaviours that put people at high risk for HIV and consequently showed impacts across all dimensions of condom use. Importantly, Soul City print was responsible for a 21% increase in condom use with a regular partner.

Self-efficacy is a key factor in preventing HIV infection was addressed by the series, though a lot of work is still required in this area. Around 50% of all respondents believed that it does no good to tell anybody of your status if you are positive.

Soul City television and print were responsible for modest improvements on this measure - 3% and 6% respectively.

Soul City was highly successful in increasing the sense of community empowerment around addressing HIV prevention. Soul City television and Soul City print were associated with a 15% and 13% improvement on this measure respectively.


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Charlotte Cramer

Wow, thank you :) I feel honoured.

View all comments