Bridging The Gap
“What you have said in your presentation opens up a huge field of potential. It’s really exciting.”
Dr Mary Anderson, BALID Executive Member, about TF’s presentation on RaPAL 26.11.2015
Tara delivered an inspiring presentation on RaPAL today at the BALID fourth and final seminar in the BAICE-funded project ‘Bridging the gap – Enhancing the dialogue between NGOs, Practitioners and Researchers’ (organised by the UEA Literacy and Development Group in collaboration with the UK Literacy Working Group), and held at the offices of the Mothers Union in London. The visuals look very professional using Sway (a Microsoft presentation program) and she talked through this including: showing a world map and mentioning the many hits we get worldwide; some of the international involvement we have had; the various types of conference; how RaPAL gradually supports people into the organisation and also into writing for the journal; the upcoming publication of Stories of Resilience and encouraging people to do their own enquiries. She emphasised the various social networking communication we do as well as the many advantages of the electronic journal. The response was vibrant! A session followed on spontaneously working on some of the characteristics which Tara had invoked – affirmation that we are moving in the right direction, nudging us into action, interactive approaches and ‘stepwise’ direction.
The main thrust of the event was about how NGO’s and researchers in the international literacies field need information quickly and in an easily accessible form. Although there was no exact definition about how RaPAL might help with this, there was a sense that delegates saw RaPAL as an agency that adds depth and opportunities for interconnections to literacies information. In closing remarks Katy Newell-Jones of BALID, who has played a main part in planning the seminars, said that BALID would like to become more involved with RaPAL.
Sarah Freeman, RaPAL Reviews Editor
The final session of four of the BAICE-funded Bridging The Gap project was held in London yesterday, organised by BALID. The overall project has been led by the University of East Anglia’s Literacy and Development Group supported by the UK Literacy Working Group and included events in Oxford, Norwich and a week’s E-Forum, over the course of the autumn. These sessions aimed to investigate issues of literacy, particularly women’s literacy, in the work of literacy practitioners and NGOs internationally and the role the research community has to play in this.
Significant areas of challenge related to accessing and sharing “research” to substantiate proposals and effective working practices; and for this research to be easily, and dare we suggest freely, accessible in plain English to the extent possible. This related as much to broad academia as the practices of the NGOs themselves. It consequently resulted in suggestions of creating guidance for NGOs in respect of constructing data collection and related ethical research norms such that they would be “formal analysis ready” from the get go. Guidance on managing effective implementation and associated underpinning negotiations was discussed; as well as potential difficulties with peer review and dissemination. There was clear demand for communities of practice across which support could be established. Attention was drawn to the degree of resourcing that would be necessary to work with journal access and HEIs generally, and its absence from funding sources. Attention to adult, gender and literacy issues are not usually a funding priority. To influence funder policy this collaborative activity and evidence base development would need to take place.
There was substantial discussion regarding the role of diverse detailed narratives in, for example, team meetings, community consultations and internal documentation that lead to operational issues resolving, identification of future interventions and work streams, and motivating participants. This ad hoc data collection of a qualitative nature was compared to the planned data collection tightly aligned to funding priorities and outcomes of a running project which receive most overt attention, and would usually be heavily quantitative. In turn these overlapped with fleshing out self-publicity around demonstrating track records, achievements and analytical awareness. This led to discussion of the various audiences communications might be directed towards; and the criticality of context.
Overall, it was agreed that while for any given individual accessing reports, technology and even the English language might be challenging; across teams implementing projects the potential for quite a high level of access to English, to research, to technology was likely to be found and to contribute to creating communities of practice which disseminated, interpreted and applied gleaned knowledge to local contexts. This suggests the reverse can be implemented with appropriate support structures.
Overall, there appeared to be a demand for participants to develop fora to share their stories and how the detail of their biggest challenges converted with work and perhaps a little luck into their mentionable successes. Below are write-ups of the discussions and outcomes from the sessions, supported by the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) and led by the UEA Literacy and Development Group in collaboration with the UK Literacy Working Group and the British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID).
Bridging the Gap Final Report
Bridging the Gap London Event 26th November 2015 Full Report
Bridging the Gap e-Forum November 2015 Full Report
Bridging the Gap Stimulus Paper UEA Event 23 October 2015
Bridging the Gap UEA Event 23 October 2015 Full Report
Bridging the Gap UKFIET Event Sept 2015 Full Report