Crucial elements for future proof education & research partnerships with the Global SouthPIE Webinar
On the 22nd of April 2021 the Platform for International Education (PIE) organised a webinar to discuss elements that are crucial for sustainable cooperation with the Global South in the field of higher education & research. During this webinar the findings have been presented as a do’s & don’ts list to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The four main topics were discussed in breakout groups with experts in international cooperation, education and research. Do’s & don’ts were pitched and discussed with the audience. The topics of the four breakout rooms were:
- Insight on impact.
- Online education / online capacity development.
- Interaction research & education.
- The future of Dutch international cooperation of vocational-
and higher education & research.
After the breakout room presentations and discussions, the hosts of each break-out presented the findings and main do’s and don’ts back at the plenary session. Feedback and reflections were given by Pascalle Grotenhuis, Director Social Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Freek van der Meer, Dean of the Faculty Geo-information and Earth Observation (ITC) Twente University.
The main points to be considered are:
- A longer duration of the programme
- Recognizing the time it takes for building up of partnerships and mutual trust so build on this strong foundation and avoid fragmentation
- Covid-19 even more fiercely showed the need for patience and time in building up relations and trust
- Safeguarding continuity and sustainability of projects.
- Recognizing the importance of a strong foundation and existing relationship with the partners
- Project activities, education and training should be tailor-made to fit the local needs and situation (culture, IT accessibility, language capacity and computer literacy etc.). The playing field should not be assumed to be equal.
- Breaking the silos; enhance collaboration and coordination (so as to enhance the impact of funds)
- between research and education
- between projects and programmes,
- between programmes to stimulate capacity development
- requires good collaboration between Ministries, intermediary organisations, and at level of EKNs
- Interactions between research and education is ‘sine qua non’ in further building partnerships and jointly working on global issues such as Food Security, Climate etc.
- PhD Scholarships are essential part of the programme
- Digitalization is here to stay, but should be appropriately implemented based on local needs and capacity
- In capacity development and in projects
- Combined online and live/face-to-face training, Blended Learning approach
- Flexible funding to allow for the (expensive) development of online modules that are scalable and re-usable (return on investment)
- Focus on Lifelong Learning rather than on (relatively) short training activities
- Shifting the power to the South/Sharing the power/Equal power between North and South
- Inclusion in capacity development and online education
- Can be more or less inclusive depending on the local context and means of organization
- Therefore it is vital to assess the impact of digitalization on the inclusivity of marginalized groups.
- Capacity development requires a realistic and user-oriented needs assessment beforehand and impact assessment afterwards, using appropriate methods. Only then can you have credible and sustainable results.
- Combined numbers and narratives/stories for sensemaking
- Intermediate results on skills, behaviour change
- Impact after termination of project interventions
- It remains important to keep the NL alumni engaged and the other alumni as well?
- Stimulates life-long learning
- Allows honest reflection
- They are living proof (i.e. the narrative) of why the programme works and also a great asset for the local and international partners involved in the partner country
- Helps create new links, broaden the network and find new synergies
This was a very successful first webinar regarding the future of sustainable cooperation with the Global South in the field of higher education & research. Some important conclusions were drawn on joint lessons learned in carrying out capacity development and education projects in the Global South. These lessons will hopefully form the foundation in the design of a future programme. In a subsequent webinar it is important to involve partners and alumni from the Global South. Their perspective was largely missing from this first session.