Dr. Sammia Poveda from UNU-CS delivering a training

Participation and Critical Pedagogy in Myanmar

March 1, 2017

Our project “Psychosocial wellbeing of individuals in a society in transition: exploring the role of new technologies in Myanmar” has recently started a new phase. Based on findings of the fieldwork conducted last October 2016, a proposal for improving their implementation practices was presented to the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation (MBAPF). In order to promote ownership, Sammia Poveda, Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) and lead of this project, conducted a participatory workshop with the Director of MBAPF and various members of staff of this NGO. The objective of this workshop was to discuss the findings of her initial evaluation, explaining the reasons why improvements were needed. After findings were discussed, the proposal prepared by Sammia was presented, introducing the MBAPF to Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and the value of such pedagogy to the teaching of ICTs. This was followed by debates and a brainstorming exercise about possible activities that could be incorporated in their Mobile Information Literacy (MIL) course.

Keeping in mind the MBAPF’s lack of time and resources, the rest of the workshop was used to reflect on each of the modules and incorporate activities to increase discussion and reflection. This was a hands-on exercise, in small groups (2 or 3 people), where the MBAPF staff worked to revise each of the modules and incorporate activities that they felt comfortable and ready to implement. Besides generating ownership, this exercise also ensured that the changes implemented were culturally sensitive and relevant, and that the staff was ready to implement them with no additional training.

The impact of these two days of hard work was evidenced in the following week, when the MBAPF staff conducted a training of trainers session, and successfully implemented the changes that they had proposed. After this, interviews were conducted to explore their impressions about the experience, what else could be done and challenges faced. Dr Thant Thaw Kaung said:

“I […] would like to express our sincere thank to your valuable input in our training to be effective. I have been thinking how we can improve our curriculum but due to limited time I have, I could not do so in past few months. You have taken that role and hence I really appreciate your help.”

Further data analysis will be conducted in the following months to start producing reports, white papers and academic papers to summarize the findings of this project for relevant stakeholders.

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