Getting Research Findings back to the Communities

Research findings are impactful when they are shared with participants, either individual or communities. The intent of research is to produce knowledge that is relevant for community growth and development.

My research works and writing spans over the years of working and gaining experiences from  community and researchers in different Institutions. This changed my perspectives and allowed me to begin to have a clearer and broader understanding of the complexities in the dynamic interplays taking place between research and development. I saw the need to have a full grasp of  translating research into intervention before being implemented. My research discipline is in agriculture, specifically in production of quality. My research interest is community development with the use of system dynamics as a tool of analysis.

My current research is on getting research findings back to the Communities. According to Statista (2021), the total global spending on research and development (R&D) has risen astronomically in past decades reaching 2.23 trillion dollars from 1996 – 2018). However, communities in developing countries still remain underdeveloped.  Research takes different forms and provides information for further development and understanding of the what shapes the society and environment. Sharing the findings from research with the people or communities will bring about maximal benefit and impact on the communities. In qualitative research, before any research takes place, efforts are made by researchers to ensure cordiality between the research team and the community. This process is vital necessary to gain the approval of the community head or chiefs for the research to be conducted. The community head or chiefs in turn, encourage members to participate in the study. But, the fact remains that most research findings are left on the book shelves or library in developing countries after completion.

The communities, who are often the subjects of the research, give consent by providing all necessary and needed information, believing that their participation in these researches will ensure direct benefit to their communities. However, after the data have been collected and analyzed,  reports written, and the research study concluded, researchers feel less compelled to take the findings to the communities. Rather, they publish their findings in either local or international journals or articles, leaving the communities to speculate about outcomes of the research.

Research findings needs to be appropriately disseminated without any technical language constraint to participants or communities that participated in the study. This way, they will be informed about the findings and its implication.  Doing this will not only change the thinking of the participants but also bring about reformation that will help to solve the community problems.  As the world moves towards achieving sustainability, it is necessary that the 21st century researchers integrate into the planning stages of their proposals strategies and methodologies in which their research findings will be disseminated to participating individuals or communities.

I know that the opportunity given to me to attend this workshop will not only increase  my confidence, passion but also help me to develop a better writing skill, that will increase my ability to broadcast research methods and output in various available outlets, including being done in onshore and offshore journals.

Grace Idowu Awosanmi

Nigeria


What about us, we wish to live a dignified life...

Elderly persons living alone

I am a community educator/developer/counsellor with interests in a wide range of community development projects, which includes amongst others lifelong learning, living conditions and wellbeing of the elderly persons, HIV/AIDS counselling, community capacity development, entrepreneurship and social welfare projects more generally. My specific career objectives are to: (i) provide lifelong learning and counselling that foster the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes that make for a dignified and healthy lifestyles (ii) to take active part in the fighting of HIV/AIDS pandemic and the associated socio-economic challenges (iii) to advocate for the re-integration of the infected, affected and socially excluded people in the mainstream society through community sensitization, mobilization and research.

Having worked as a community development practitioner for the past 15 years, working and engaging with the socially excluded and marginalised members of society, especially older persons made me develop an interest in issues affecting elderly people in Botswana and their welfare hence the emanating of my Master’s thesis topic which explored the lived experiences of the elderly people living alone in rural communities in Botswana. This research area is closer to my heart as I was raised by grandparents who ensured that I had a better upbringing while my mother migrated to the city in search for better life opportunities to sustain the family. I could see the hardship of life my grandparents had to endure every day.

Elderly people in Botswana, play a vital role as they are the contributors to the development and stability of the society. They contribute to the society financially and in many ways their experiences, wisdom and knowledge assist in building the nation yet their quality of life is still low when compared to the general population. Most of the elderly persons in Botswana, like in many African countries, reside in rural areas.  Rural areas are characterised by poor and inadequate housing structures, poor nutrition, water problems, low income levels, poor transport and communication facilities. Some of the elderly persons are self-reliant and well-off, however, the majorities are struggling to sustain themselves, while some are extremely poor. The assumption in Botswana, like in many African countries, is the expectation of the family to take care of their elderly relatives. Yet economic and social forces have influenced the family unit to transform from being collective to individualistic. It has also forced the able-bodied persons who are supposed to care for the elderly persons to migrate to urban areas in search for better life opportunities. This has resulted in elderly persons living alone over an extended period and this appears to be challenging and worrisome given the demands that are brought about by old age.

As I was pursuing my masters, I realised that they was little information written about elderly people especially those living alone in rural areas in Botswana. I felt sharing or publishing my findings will contribute more knowledge to better understand issues that affect older persons and also provide useful information that could assist policy makers in formulation of public policies for elderly persons. As currently there is no comprehensive policy that deals or is focusing on the situation of older persons and how best to address their circumstances and conditions to enable them to live a meaningful life. Lack of comprehensive policy in Botswana that guide’s assistance to the elderly persons made it hard to meet the welfare needs of the elderly persons. Also sharing their lived experiences will enable practitioners in the areas of social security and protection to gain an insights on best practices in working with elderly people.

Dimakatso Joseph

I am a community educator/developer/counsellor with interests in a wide range of community development projects, which includes amongst others lifelong learning, living conditions and wellbeing of the elderly persons, HIV/AIDS counselling, community capacity development, entrepreneurship and social welfare projects more generally. My specific career objectives are to: (i) provide lifelong learning and counselling that foster the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes that make for a dignified and healthy lifestyles (ii) to take active part in the fighting of HIV/AIDS pandemic and the associated socio-economic challenges (iii) to advocate for the re-integration of the infected, affected and socially excluded people in the mainstream society through community sensitization, mobilization and research.


E-Learning Challenges During COVID-19

Experiences from University of Botswana

Coming from the background of Adult Education, and being influenced by principles of Adult learning I find myself compelled to pursue an alternative pathway for an effective and innovative eLearning for adult learners in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic. Hence, my determination to explore and discuss critically challenges of eLearning faced by distance education learners. I hope to sensitise and influence eLearning policy makers and Academic managers at the University of Botswana on the best eLearning support and approach for distance learners who are faced with challenges of making use of online learning.

Though my journey as a learner in both research and in publication has just started, I have already experienced the joy of sharing my knowledge with others. More importantly I have come to understand that my passion in writing and research is defined mostly by my experiences, for example, work-related, family and others. My interest in this writing workshop has been inspired by my desire to share my experiences of how the global pandemic, COVID 19 has affected Distance Education learners of the University of Botswana. I have facilitated modules for these learners for the past 3 years.

I have discovered that distance learners at the University of Botswana encounter multiple eLearning challenges related to internet availability and accessibility. Learners are disadvantaged by the digital divide factor, for example, locations where they are; unaffordability of IT gadgets; unreliability of internet; having to share places with others hence disturbance during classes.  This seems to affiliate with evidence by Zalat, et al (2021) who reported that the main barriers to eLearning are insufficient, and unstable internet connectivity, inadequate computer laboratories, lack of computers or laptops, and technical problems.

The challenges facing distance learners are compounded by internal practice of teaching and learning management, and the eLearning management who seem oblivious of the real circumstances of these learners.  Little or no acknowledgement is paid to the fact that these learners are disadvantaged by the digital divide factor, and therefore require flexible eLearning support structures and approaches. Hence this piece on eLearning challenges encountered by University of Botswana distance learners.

Technology has changed the way higher institutions organize teaching and learning globally. Although the emergence of eLearning predated the COVID 19 pandemic, the pandemic has accelerated its demand. The pursuit of a knowledge-based society has also led higher education institutions to invest in online programs, thus increasing educational access and mitigating the effects of the pandemic. However, due to poor infrastructural development and poor internet access, the adoption of eLearning has been a challenge to learners in Africa, with such challenges being very notable in African universities.

Furthermore, research has shown that e-learning has been under practiced in the past particularly by developing countries (Mpungose, 2020). However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has made it compulsory for the entire world to rely on eLearning for education. Nevertheless, learners, especially in Africa are overwhelmed by e-learning challenges they continue to face in their everyday learning. On the other hand, for example, learning practitioners at the University of Botswana fail to recognize barriers, and challenges of e-learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Distance learners at the University of Botswana are expected to join eLearning lessons and submit online assignments without fail.

By writing this academic paper I intend to communicate with relevant community of scholars, academic managers, IT practitioners and learners, the challenges of eLearning in an environment like the University of Botswana. My paper will be helpful as reference for both learners and scholars when they explore this area of teaching and learning during COVID 19. I hope to present a sound argument on the importance of establishing a new policy for an inclusive e-learning. This will call for administrative changes aligned with the demands of innovative, flexible, and effective eLearning approaches. Arinto (2016) notes that teaching approaches in e-learning settings are resistant to educational innovation as they are often tied to the traditional ways of teaching and learning, which are prone to inflexibility and inadaptability. While Arinto discusses Issues and Challenges in Open and Distance e-Learning from the perspectives of Philippine, I find the paper relevant to what I intend to communicate in my piece.

Goitsemang Mmeko

My name is Goitsemang Mmeko. I hold a Master’s Degree in Adult Education, and currently work as a research administrator for the SFA Research Network (Botswana Hub). My key areas of interests are in Community development, sustainability, and Research Management.


Education aid and policy creation: what now?

Ensuring education aid effectiveness

A lot of financial education aid flows to Malawi year in year out. Some of this aid is provided to change or introduce policies aimed to change education indicators within the primary education sector. My work sets out to develop outputs that suggest an ideal way (a framework) through which education aid should influence policy. At the heart of this framework lie the effectiveness and efficiency of the financial resources at play.

Coming from a youth and community development background, I now see myself pursuing education policy as an area of my personal and to some extent professional interest. Under the Sustainable Futures in Writing venture, my writing is targeting policymakers and practitioners in the field of education management. These are the powerful and most influential figures who determine, shape and craft the course of primary education provisioning in Malawi’s education system.

But what voice do I have? What influence do I have? Being a fresh master’s graduate, I do not consider myself as someone who has much rigour, influence and voice in this field. Thus, what I can and will do is turn to the sources from where my target readers draw references, inferences and a source of direction from; published work. Specifically, policy briefs are a powerful entity that significantly shapes debates and consequent direction in the field of education management. By attempting to publish such documents, not only do I attempt to put a mark in the history of the trade, but I am also set to place my views, opinions and voice into a large and already existing body of knowledge, which keeps evolving and changing with time, more research, training and practice.

The work I intend to do tries to introduce a well-developed and crafted framework for education policymaking as influenced by foreign education aid to Malawi’s primary education sector. This work is drawn on findings from my postgraduate research on the “implications of foreign aid on education policy and practice in Malawi”. What my work tries to do is place me within the dialogue, and more specifically at the forefront of the dialogue on the most effective and efficient way in which education aid can influence education outcomes through the policy development/creation process. In this regard, I draw on three important theories: political ecology, which understands how policies are enacted in various contexts; decoloniality, which focuses on empowering local indigenous people in the decision making processes; and situated learning, which appreciates and considers locally-based options that are in line with place-specific traditional and cultural values.

I would lie to myself if I think this will be easy: there are complicated complexities between my intended overall objective and the described way in which I hope to achieve it. Firstly, reaching a point where my final output is ready and is accessible to the targeted audience would not be easy. There are a couple of bottlenecks that stand in my way. Having the output ready will require hard work and diligence, which I am committed to providing. However, having the audience get to read through my outputs is a whole different story. Also, having the outputs in a form that is easily accessible to the audience is something that I will need to deeply consider as I go through this process. Regardless, I remain optimistic that in the end, I shall succeed. I believe hope is one of the most powerful forces in the universe and it so happens that I do have it in abundance!

Stewart Paul

My name is Stewart Paul and I am a project development and implementation professional, currently working in the youth development as well as environmental sustainability spaces in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as Malawi’s developmental blueprints. I have extensive experience in end-to-end project management, with a demonstrated history in proposal writing and planning, service delivery and administration, documentation, and financial management. I am currently working as a Research and Projects Manager for Abundance – a non-profit organization working towards creating better lives for people and caring for the environment. Further to this, I am closely working with the Malawi Hub of the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network in a Research Associate capacity. I hold an MSc in Educational Studies (Adult education, Youth studies and Community development) from the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. I am furthering my skills, capacity and overall professional development in the fields of community development, environmental sustainability and youth development in Malawi.


The Social Life of Urban Rooftops

The writing piece that I am planning to complete during this programme is a conceptual journal article. The paper will be written based on my long-term engagement with various cities in Bangladesh through multiple projects and, most importantly, based on my own lived experience. Although I have some experience writing journal articles based on empirical data, I do not have experience writing a conceptual paper. Methodologically, I will be using my own lived experience and embodied knowledge as a researcher and an urban dweller. In addition, I am also considering engaging with native Bangla music, drama, and literature as a source of references to situate Chaad (rooftop) in the urban landscape to understand the socio-cultural meaning of urban life, which will also be an experimental method for me. I am hoping this programme will allow me to explore and experiment with an atypical writing style and method and learn to write something close to my heart which is not part of any project.

I am an academic wanderer. I started my career as an anthropologist then migrated to geography. While I immigrate to geography, although I occasionally visit my old home, i.e. anthropology, to meet my friends, do research, and collaborate with folks from my former academic family. Like my academic career, my personal life has been itinerant. I am originally from Bangladesh; the UK has been my “home” for the past 12 years. I visit my folks back home just the way I pay occasional visits to my academic family in anthropology. It is a real privilege to have multi-disciplinary ‘homes’, and I love my diverse experiences of living in two very different worlds (North & South). However, I find these very difficult to answer when anyone asks me what is ‘home’ to me or how I label myself as an ‘academic’- anthropologist or a geographer. So, the idea of home, identity, and label puzzle me all the time. Probably that’s the reason I am always interested in the idea of home, identity and space. That’s why I wanted to write about this article on an ordinary space of a home, i.e. rooftop, which is empty but full of life and stories.

Let me tell you a bit more about the paper now. The paper that I plan to write is conceptualisation the urban rooftop (Chaad) in Bangladesh. Chaad an integral structure of a home or a building that protects the dwellers from rain, sunlight, wind and extreme temperature. Usually, the rooftop is considered a lifeless urban space with no practical use for many parts of the world. A rooftop is a flat and empty space, may look alike but holds multiple dimensions of urban life in Bangladesh. As a wasted space, the rooftop has been ignored often as an important site of study by planners and urban scholars. Many urban scholars have written about urban space from a various perspectives such as public space, the production of space, space and time, but not many have written on spaces like urban rooftop that is ordinary and mundane. This ordinary space challenges and overlaps the idea of private and public, individual and collective, personal and social space; it brings together neighbours as well as splits them; it is a place to hide from family life and a place to find oneself, it also a gendered space where a number of household chores take place and sometimes women use this space to escape their chores. In the paper, I argue urban rooftop is a socially produced space in Bangladesh that may not have significant economic value but has substantial socio-cultural meaning to the urban dwellers in Bangladesh.

The proposed paper aims to contribute conceptually to the urban studies scholarships. I am not an urban researcher, but the rooftop has repeatedly emerged in my research projects as a critical urban space. For example, in my PhD research I looked at the transitions of solar energy in rural and urban homes in Bangladesh. My research findings uncovered a number of reasons why solar energy projects have failed in urban areas in Bangladesh and unwillingness to occupy the rooftop with solar panels was one of the reason. In my research what I found that rooftops in cities have multiple uses. It has a social life and has a strong socio-cultural meaning to the everyday life of urban dwellers. Despite having an economic benefit from solar electricity, the residents of high-rise building are not ready to occupy their rooftops with solar panels. This kind of socio-cultural understanding is important for critical scholarship since these days myriad debates around productive use of urban rooftop and several initiatives have been proposed globally to covert urban rooftop as green-space, eco-garden for a sustainable city transition.

Raihana Ferdous

University of Glasgow