Welcome to the BAICE e-forum, again! Today’s discussions are facilitated by Prof. Anna Robinson-Pant, Professor of Education, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. Anna is a Professor of Education at and is shortly to be appointed UNESCO Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation at the University of East Anglia. She has worked as teacher trainer, planner and ethnographic researcher in the field of literacy, gender and development for many years (particularly in Nepal). She received the UNESCO International Award for Literacy Research in 2001 for her book, Why eat green cucumber at the time of dying? Exploring the link between women’s literacy and development in Nepal. She has conducted a range of policy-focused research studies for various development agencies, and recently worked as Global Research Coordinator for an IFAD-UNESCO project in Cambodia, Ethiopia and Egypt, ‘Learning knowledge and skills for agriculture to improve rural livelihoods’.
After starting in literacy work ‘on the ground’ (mostly in Nepal), I have been based at a UK university and have engaged in research at a distance for many years now. As my role is often synthesising or analysing research studies for policy documents, I have been struck by how much powerful research evidence we now have on what literacy and literacy learning mean in people’s lives. However, as the comments and postings so far show, it is very difficult to see what impact such research is having on the direction of Government and INGO policy and programmes. I have also worked in a training capacity with NGOs and other institutions to introduce and support action-oriented research approaches. Usually this has been part of a short term project – a ‘one-off’ activity – and afterwards these organisations have found it difficult to find time, space and resources to integrate such research into their programme planning and evaluation.
From my perspective as an academic researcher, I would be interested in others’ experiences of these issues around dissemination of research findings and building research capacity:
- Is it realistic or appropriate to expect that NGOs and other literacy agencies conduct their own participatory and action research when they are busy implementing programmes? Or should that be only the role of academic researchers?
- How can we make sure that research findings (particularly of qualitative and participatory studies) are shared more widely with those who are implementing programmes or designing policy?
- How can we use existing research on adult literacy to advocate for more resources to be allocated to adult literacy and lifelong learning? What role can social media play?
Looking forward to discussing your views on some of these issues!