Partnership Education: Action Research & Learning Scenarios (PEARLS) - Community-based learning through empowered voices

Peter Day, Willice Onyango,

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


    This paper is co-authored by representatives of groups and Youth NGOs from marginalised communities in Kenya; students from the University of Brighton and an academic lecturer. It tells the story of a community media partnership through the voices and experiences of the collaborators. Founding partners of the network include the International Youth Council of Kenya; Faces for Peace; Focus Youth Initiative; K-Youth Media; a number of NGOs working in rural Kenya and the Community Media 4 Kenya (CM4K) students at the University of Brighton.
    Now in its 4th year, CM4K started, in partnership with a group of former students – some of whom were Kenyan – who wanted to apply the principles and practices of community informatics learnt as part of their Media Studies degrees courses in Brighton (under- and post-grad) in Kenyan civil communities. The partnership with our former students started as an experiment, in community-based or service learning, in which students and community became the focus of a mutual knowledge and learning environment, in which community media tools, spaces and processes were developed and shared in order to empower local voices; support opportunities for socio-economic development; promote diversity and mutual cultural understanding between students and community.
    Totally self-financing, Media Studies students raise the funds to finance the trip and ensure that their skills, knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm can make a difference each year by addressing the needs and aspirations of the community partners. In addition to this knowledge exchange, students also engage in fund raising and proposal writing in order to equip the training workshops and leave equipment behind to ensure that the trainers, we have trained, can continue both the training and the community media activities after the UK contingent of CM4K departs. Students are also currently planning fundraising events that will support connection to the electricity grid for a partner school in a remote rural area.
    Participants from marginalised communities; NGOs representing disenfranchised youth; women’s groups; farmer’s groups; etc. in Kenya are identified by CM4K’s Kenyan partners. This year for example, International Youth Council of Kenya, in co-operation with the UN Volunteers, the Government’s new Youth Enterprise Fund and Rongo University College in dialogue with the University of Brighton drew up a programme for capacity building workshops and discussions in Nairobi, the rural community of Rongo and the very remote community of Nyandiwa on Lake Victoria with whom we are collaborating with in establishing a community media centre. Invitations to participate are generated through local community, policy and civil society networks. Participating communities gain from the participatory, learning (community media) workshops through the acquisition or improvement of practical media skill. The PLW approach facilitates and encourages: collaborative inter and intra community dialogues; learning by doing; active project planning and implementation; experience in knowledge sharing; confidence and capacity building; self-expression and community voice; the articulation of community needs and; finding local solutions to these needs.
    Drawing on experiential learning the PEARLS approach requires students to engage with partners to map assets and identify needs; assess how assets might be used to address needs; plan and develop all aspects of the partnership activities; create and test the interventions in the field; and reflect critically in dialogue at each stage. To date, much of the CM4K work has been geared toward assessing the capability of students and community partners collaborating with limited finances and resources. However, the interest among community partners has been compelling enough for the University of Brighton to formalise the fieldtrip into the UG curriculum.
    After a critical discussion of the methodological challenges, the paper outlines a number of exciting partnership developments currently under discussion and concludes with the argument that even in difficult economic climates it is possible for HE institutions to: 1) shape the competencies and career prospects of students and community partners alike; 2) make themselves more accessible to communities and civil society; 3) support and sustain community development activities; 4) stimulate both community-based and community learning; and 5) incorporate exciting curricular developments that contribute to mutual knowledge sharing development and learning.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLiving Knowledge Conference
    EditorsSøsser Brodersen, Jens Dorland , Michael Søgaard Jørgensen
    Place of PublicationCopenhagen
    PublisherCenter for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transitions Aalborg University Copenhagen A C Meyers Vænge 15 2400 Copenhagen SV
    ISBN (Print)9788793053021
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
    EventLiving Knowledge Conference - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: 9 Apr 201411 Apr 2014


    ConferenceLiving Knowledge Conference


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