Collaborations, encounters and partnerships: new spaces for citizenship and learning?

 

By Santeri Suvanto

The session was hosted by DEEEP/CONCORD and EADI WG “Global Learning meets Development”, which was initially established to address the growing disconnect between development education and international development.
This first session of the EADI WG series discussed the question of ‘Collaborations, encounters and partnerships: new spaces for citizenship and learning?’ The presenters addressed the importance of grass root community level cooperation and the resilience that derives from personal enthusiasm to community development, as an opportunity and a necessity for sustainable global development.


Sara Franch from the Training Centre for International Development presented her work in the context of decentralized cooperation (DC) in the Province of Trento, Italy, and how DC, through practices of exchanges between communities, has brought new opportunities for global citizenship and a new dimension for international development. The four DC programmes implemented by the Province of Trento were done in partnership with three municipalities in the Balkans (Kraljevo in Serbia, Peja Pec in Kossovo, Prijedor in Bosnia) and Caia district in Mozambique. One of the successful examples in Mozambique of DC was where a local university did research on land planning and usage, which was put into practice and followed up by the local actors.
The core of DC is in the bottom up approach and mutual learning that emphasizes the role of local multi-sector actors and the notion of reciprocity in which Local Authorities have become development agents and where the participation of civil society is a feature of equal importance that enable decentralized democratic governance. DC has therefore great potential in terms of fostering active citizenship. In addition to the enthusiasm and openness towards voluntary work, DC requires financial and human resources. In Italy, Sara described, the Provincial laws obligate provinces to invest 0,25 % to international development work, from which DC is also funded.
Cathryn MacCallum and Insiya Salam from Sazani Associates presented their work on the Global Professional Learning Communities that foster the transformative approach to global education. The learning community has brought teachers and education professionals together from Wales and Zanzibar for over ten years, basing its methodology on peer mentoring, inclusion, participation, critical and creative thinking. Presenters explained how the inclusion of schools from various backgrounds have increased the level of experience in global processes within the communities, both in Wales and Zanzibar. The cooperation has led to shared learning resources and creating of interdisciplinary curricula, student action groups and the creation of ‘Health and Sustainable Schools’ certificate that schools may graduate from. The network of cooperation in the learning community with parallel levels of peer support groups and action points was described by the presenters as a “complete mess”, but as a very efficient, participatory and productive one.
The current curriculum development and the decreasing funding in the UK has led the Welsh teachers with limited resources. Therefore the GPLC’s Welsh partners have relied very much on enthusiastic and motivated teachers, when the government support has been decreasing. In Zanzibar funding has been comprehensive and the obstacles have been more of a logistical one in reaching the most rural schools.

Cornelia Nauen and Margareth Hammer from Mundus Maris presented the community practices their organization has developed and implemented through sustainability education in West Africa. Oceans are a core necessity for the whole ecosystem of the finite globe that is threatened by overfishing, climate change, pollution, agricultural fertilization, in short, humans. Mundus Maris has established several projects in schools, with promising results and basing its work, once again, on resilient enthusiasm. The presenters emphasized that there are opportunities for positive change that can be reached by refocusing our work on people and groups and creating conditions where they can reconnect to one another and nature.
The finite resources of grass root initiatives were also discussed during the session. It was discussed that although institutional framework is needed, donor funding is often directed through ministries and international NGOs are protective of their own resources and materials, taking very little note of the ground realities of people.
From community involvement the working group session moved to discuss the role of mobility within upper middle class and its relation to the notion of global citizenship and development. Cecile Giraud has done research on mobility and identity of transmigrants in Brussels and how these people view development issues.
The relation of development and migrations is seen in three phases: migration and development, where remittances and return are at the core purpose of migration; underdevelopment and migration, where poverty is seen as the cause and brain drain as the effect of migration; and migration and (co)development, where migration is witnessed through the celebration of transnational circulation.
Migrants have been categorized often in terms of country of origin and through collective actors. However, transmigrants share the characteristics of great mobility, weak ties with the country of origin, a lack of will to form a community with others migrants from the same original national community and a strong motivation to learn the local customs of the place they live in. Giraud also detailed that transmigrants don’t see themselves as expats, and don’t belong to any particular community nor send social or economic remittances to their home country.
With these characteristic the questions that was posed was that are transmigrants seen as actors of development even though transmigrants share a global vision and have an ‘active’ cross-cultural empathy and consider themselves as global citizens. Therefore, Giroud concluded that transmigrants’ way of life can be considered as input to development issues even though they are not sending remittances to their country of origin or being part of a migrant community based on nationality.
The session led to a discussion on the differences between mobility as a traumatic experience opposed to experience as a positive experience, where transmigrants can be seen as a highly different group then asylum seekers. In addition, the difference of expats and transmigrants was understood that transmigrants don’t relate to any origin. The political implications of such migrant group might be destabilizing in terms of skilled migrants in relation to transnationals. However, transmigrants cannot be viewed as a particular societal class, but more of a lifestyle.

 

Santeri Suvanto (DEEEP/CONCORD)