Transformative learning and empowering community voices: Developing sustainable community media partnerships in Africa

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    As an academic the main driver behind developing and sustaining Community Media 4 Kenya has been transformative learning. Or to put it another way to empower students to become agents of change in their own learning, knowledge development and understanding. To encourage, through a learning by doing approach - Partnership Education: Action Research & Learning Scenarios (PEARLS) that they can make a difference collectively not only to their learning in an academic setting but also as citizens through social understand and civil responsibility - civil intelligence for the common good. I have been successful in achieving this in Brighton and in sharing it in Kenya - where interest in including community media and community-based learning has started to emerge in some universities. The other main driver is to make a difference at the community level. I use my academic knowledge and resources to support community learning through capacity and capability building - empowering communities to effect social change for themselves. CM4K emerged as a community-based learning partnership network comprising students and staff from the University of Brighton, Rongo University College & Kenyatta University as well as community groups, NGOs and government representatives in Kenya. Although still modest CM4K’s activities and the partnership are growing. It is totally self-financing. Students who elect to participate in the Community Project module at Brighton, become part of CM4K and collaborate on the planning and implementation of fundraising activities to finance the implementation of the fieldtrip. Students pay their own flights to Kenya and once in Kenya, the fieldwork relies totally on the skills, knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm (assets) of the students and participating partners — individuals from diverse social, cultural and economic backgrounds collaborating as a collective for the common good. Students quickly develop a determination to make a difference by helping to address the needs and aspirations of participating community partners. The student fund raising before the trip contributes to equipping the training workshops. Media equipment is purchased; used in the workshops and remains with our partners so that the trainers, we collaborate with, can continue training new trainers and other community media activities after our departure. The impact and results of these activities are ongoing and too many to list here. However, it is fair to say that Information, Communication and Media Studies students from Rongo University are now actively involved in digital story-telling and capacity building activities with local communities in and around Migori County, Kenya. Villages and self-help groups in and around Cham gi Wadu have been working with the CM4K partnership from the Universities of Brighton and Rongo in a pilot to assess and map community information and communication needs and assets as part of the process of developing a sustainable community radio station and mobile community media centre. Participatory community media videos and podcasts have resulted as outputs from the workshops in Nairobi and Migori County. CM4K responded to a request by a number of Kenyan youth groups to work with them to on some ICTs for peace initiative in the run up to the 2012 Kenyan General Elections and help ameliorate the inter-tribal violence of the 2007 General Election. CM4K facilitated 3 video training workshops for over 70 young people from 6 different tribes. The story they told was so powerful many youth groups used it in their outreach activities. The purpose of this Knowledge Exchange Session is to explore new ways in which learning can transform and sustain marginalised and disenfranchised communities in Africa using a participatory learning workshop (PLW) approach (Day, 2008). The workshop will begin with a contextualisation of experiences from the Community Media 4 Kenya (CM4K) partnership initiative in the form of a short video capturing how enthusiastic students from the UK and Kenya share their knowledge and skills with marginalised communities as agents of social change and development. Grounded in community media praxis, CM4K’s has developed a model of transformative learning (Mezirow) known as PEARLS (Partnership Education: Action Research & Learning Scenarios) (Day, et al, 2014 & Day, 2017). PEARLS seeks to develop both curriculum and community engagement by appropriating the tools, spaces and processes of community media to empower communities and students alike through communicative learning (Gardener), capacity building and knowledge sharing. The session will be beneficial to all stakeholders of education, development and social and community policy and ICT practice. After the video, which is intended to stimulate critical thought, dialogue and knowledge sharing, participants will engage in a PLW session designed to encourage participants to think beyond the silo way of seeing universities, i.e. as ivory towers of learning by discipline. We will consider a more socially networked and partnership way of understanding the role of universities, especially at the community level and the workshop will consider how academic learning can become more inclusive and socially empowering in Africa giving particular attention to transforming communities through the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development agenda. Reflecting on the praxis of “communications for development and social change” the session will consider a community technology scenario where bridges between researchers, practitioners and communities need to be created - taking into account the barriers and opportunities created by language and cultural differences and how dialogue, action, and knowledge sharing might be promoted between stakeholders. It should be noted here that language and cultural differences are not always shaped by geographic location. The cross-sectoral nature of this session will mean people speaking in a common tongue often have different meanings. This is particularly true in technological and academic circles. To that end, the scenario will also consider the concept of appropriate technology. In our experience many of the apps and infrastructures associated with eLearning are often inappropriate to remote, rural or marginalised communities where access electricity and the internet can be problematic. The session hopes to acknowledge and explore solutions to the problems faced by such communities in the digital age.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
    EventeLearning Africa 2017: 12th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training - InterContinental Resort, Balaclava Fort, Balaclava, Port Louis, Mauritius
    Duration: 27 Sept 201729 Sept 2017


    ConferenceeLearning Africa 2017
    CityPort Louis
    Internet address


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