DSA-ESRC Workshop series
MEETING THE CHALLENGES
Interdisciplinary research for global development
Educational Inequality, Poverty and Development
Perhaps paradoxically, our fifth workshop on educational inequality, poverty and development, emphasised the need to ‘unlearn’ as much as to learn. The workshop was convened by Tigist Grieve and hosted by the School of Education and Bristol Poverty Institute, University of Bristol.
‘Unlearning’ involves disinterring the ‘folk knowledge’ of the global North which is embedded in the basic concepts different disciplines use to understand the world and the ways they apply those concepts in practice. It also applies to the processes of research, with both those who habitually assume the lead, and those who habitually assume the agenda will be set by others, needing to unlearn their default settings. Researchers need to recognise that they are the observed, as much as observers, with responsibilities not to leave communities in which they work ‘feeling wasted’. Convenient labels like ‘the global South’ can hide differentiation and injustice, including the capture of global research by a very few elite national universities. There were also strong challenges from UK-based development NGOs, that they have found academic research often of little practical use, with demands of time, procedures and output that don’t fit well with the needs of the field.
Professor Fatamu Chege, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University Kenya, reflects on her experience of different models of interdisciplinary working in north-south, east-south and south-south research partnerships.
Casmir Rubagumya, Professor of Linguistics at St John’s University, Tanzania, explains how children learn better if taught through a language they know well
Dr Elazar Tadesse, Nutritionist and Vice President of Kotebe Metropolitan University, Ethiopia, describes how collaboration between universities in East Africa could advance institutions at present ‘invisible’ in international partnerships.
Yehualashet Mekonen of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), states how sound research with robust methodology is critical to understanding children’s wellbeing.
Tigist Grieve, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow in Education at Bristol, explains the need to appreciate how global partners can help build capacity in the North.