GDNet Program Closure

Dear GDNet Members,

I am writing with important information about the closure of the GDNet program this week, (GDN’s knowledge service), and details of online resources which you may find useful.

Funding for the GDNet Program ends shortly and the GDNet website and online services are no longer accessible. GDN will be contacting GDNet members in due course to re-register for a new database of researcher profiles. We hope the following links will be of value to you in your research:

GDNet publications: GDNet’s toolkits, research communications handouts, learning publications and project documents (e.g. How To Guides on Policy Influence) are available from DFID’s Research For Development portal.

GDNet’s reflections on the achievements, outcomes and learning of the GDNet programme, 2010 to 2014, are captured in the GDNet Legacy Document.
GDNet’s June 2014 series of short ‘Lessons Learned’ publications comprise:

Free e-journals: INASP and the British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) provide access to several collections of free online journals including collections from Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

How to communicate research: INASP’s AuthorAid portal is a global network that offers support, mentoring, resources and training for researchers in developing countries.

Accessing development research:

Working papers and policy briefs from GDN-funded research are available from the GDN site.

The BLDS Digital Library is a free repository of digitised research papers from African and Asian research institutes.

Eldis is an online information service providing free access to relevant, up-to-date and diverse research on international development issues.

Finally, on behalf of my team, I would like to thank you for your membership of GDNet and to wish you every success in your future work. Many of you took part in our latest Members survey and we are disseminating the results widely. The analysis of the survey is included in our latest Monitoring & Evaluation report (see p.54 and p.84).

Best wishes

Sherine Ghoneim, GDNet Programme Director on behalf of the GDNet Team

Are online courses a learning opportunity?

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Like any other course, online courses indubitably offer a learning opportunity for those who decide to go for it; or those who are ‘lucky enough’ to experience it. However, some argue that the learning opportunity in online courses remains very limited as opposed to what offline ones can offer. This particularly because of the flexibility online trainees have in accommodating their participation to their own schedules, the length of online courses which may lead to some losing interest in the learning, as well as the absence of face to face interaction.

Joined HandsIn her post entitled “Online courses as a learning opportunity”, Clara Richards reflects on her experience with CIPPEC in conducting and facilitating online courses. She tells us her story and how the online course on research communications she co-facilitated provided a learning opportunity not only for her trainees, but also for herself. In fact, Clara argues that the richness of online courses lies in the opportunity they create to meet with “different kinds of people working in all sorts of development activities.” Although coming from different regional, cultural and professional backgrounds, trainees and trainers end up sharing their different experiences as they all are after one common objective “how to promote change in our contexts by communicating better what we do and the knowledge we produce.“; she argues.

Reading through Clara’s post on this online course we co-developed and co-facilitated last year, it was kind of an eye opener for me on a very interesting and insightful fact: the real added-value of online courses, in my opinion, lies in the freedom they provide both trainees and trainers with. Both end up having the space, time and courage to express their diverse opinions, share their respective experiences and comment on this simple and friendly forum the online course provide them with. Lots of barriers you face in offline courses are actually broken in the online ones. In this regard, I second what Clara says; “I found the course fruitful and it widened my knowledge not only on research communication, but also on other people’s actual realities, challenges and opportunities.

Under the “Spaces for engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” programme from GDNet and CIPPEC I recently co-facilitated an online course on Research Communications. The course lasted six weeks, with an additional week for introductions. Personally, the experience was really enriching, especially as I got to learn how communication works in other contexts. In this respect, I have to confirm and highlight what Vanesa Weyrauch posted in a recent blog on the advantages of online courses: i.e. the great benefits that they deliver in terms of reaching a wide scope of participants and sharing experiences across the globe easily. Furthermore, we can better empathise with those colleagues who, although located on the other side of the world, are having exactly the same difficulties that we are struggling with!

Read more of Clara Richards’ post

Online training is THE thing!

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This post was written by Ravi Murugesan, INASP, as a response to Vanesa Weyrauch’s post titled “Is online training THE thing?” published in Politics & Ideas on April 2013. In her post, Weyrauch refers to online courses as CIPPEC‘s golden star, and lists its different advantages based on CIPPEC’s experience. Among what she considers as strengths of online courses are their cost effectiveness and broad scope, length of the process incorporating knowledge, flexibility for trainees to accommodate participation to their own agendas, and above all the horizontal and co-production driven approach of online courses.

learn-moreIn his post, Murugesan seconds Weyrauch’s argument based on his experience with INASP in developing and conducting online courses, training thus about 150 researchers from over 30 developing countries. He also argues that online courses allow one to reach out to more women, as the latter may lack the flexibility to travel and attend workshops at the expense of their family commitments. Looking at our own experience with online courses, in fact we have seen a gender balance that we could not achieve with our offline courses (in the latest research communications online course, 19 southern researchers and communication practitioners participated, with a gender balance of 50/50). But as Murugesan stated, this opinion is based on our observation and experience with online courses.

I work in the AuthorAID project at INASP, an international development charity in the UK that is dedicated to putting research knowledge at the heart of development. AuthorAID’s mission is to support developing country researchers in publishing their work. Since 2007, when we started out, we have conducted numerous workshops on research writing in our partner countries in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. In 2011, we initiated e-learning by installing Moodle and developing an online course in research writing. Following the success of the pilot course late that year, we have conducted 3 more courses.

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Is online training THE thing?

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Courtesy of renjith krishnan at freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of renjith krishnan at freedigitalphotos.net

In her post, Vanesa Weyrauch refers to online courses as CIPPEC‘s golden star. She takes us through, what she considers are, its various advantages.

For the past five years under the “Spaces for engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” programme from GDNet and CIPPEC we have carried out different capacity building (CB) activities using a wide range of mechanisms. We were fortunate enough as to be able try out diverse CB strategies. Thus we have worked as a live lab where we could test different ways of developing capacity, ranging from regional face to face conferences and workshops to peer assistance, technical assistance and online courses.

Thinking about what has been most effective from our experience online courses quickly show up as our golden star. Through 13 courses we have been able to “train” 212 researchers and policy makers from 44 countries, including Latin America, Asia and Africa. After trying out other mechanisms, we have decided to strengthen online training due to its diverse advantages:

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Media, an absolute core of equitable development

What is media? Why is it important? Can we live without it? What is its role in development?

In its simplest form, media is defined as the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively; but I would say it is a functional organism that carries out specific roles in a society; the easiest and fastest way to get something done and without it, a nation can never survive!

No one can deny that media shapes our lives nowadays, since it spreads and disseminates information to a wider audience in no time. Egypt is undergoing a process of cautious transition in the media sector especially after the 25th of January revolution. The media, with specific reference to newspapers, radio, television, Internet (social media) and mobile platforms, play a crucial role in national development, which particularly aims at improving the political, economic and social lives of the people. These different forms of media have gained more popularity in the Egyptian market, but when referring to Upper Egypt, the case is not the same.

To elaborate more, the media depends on the societies in which they operate, and the audience they reach in order to have an impact and a role in development. However, none of these factors are the same everywhere, at all times, or under all conditions since every medium has a message and a target audience; aiming at influencing a change, attitudes, perceptions and decision-making.

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From a craftsman to a well-rounded strategic decision maker

Today, women and youth are ruling over the world and making their mark in various fields with their dedication and hard work to excel in their area of expertise, especially that the youth are the future, and one day will control the nation, but is this the case in Egypt? Well, a major area of concern in Egypt is the youth representing about 20% of Egypt’s total population, whereas rural youth account for 59% of Egypt’s total youth and representing 85% of Egypt’s poor youth (2009 Survey of Young People in Egypt – SYPE).  Further, female participation in the Egyptian labor market is among the lowest in the world since it is a highly gender-discriminated market, in which young women (aged 18 – 29) represent only 18.5% of the Egyptian workforce.

ENID is implementing a set of four highly integrated programs, each of which has the potential to impact on job creation and poverty reduction in both the medium and longer term. The first group of beneficiaries targeted by ENID programs is the youth and women segments of Upper Egypt society. We had the chance to interview Engineer Ayat Abdel Mooty, who is the Manager of Program A “Empowerment of Women and Youth”, during ENID’s first annual conference.

But what does “women empowerment” really stand for?

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Developmental Challenges in Upper Egypt: A woman’s perspective

“الست لو خدت حظها في التعليم؛ هتعرف ازاي تشارك، ازاي تطور في المجتمع بتاعها، ازاي تشارك في الحياه الثقافية و السياسية في مجتمعها…. تعرف اللي ليها و اللي عليها”

“If women are empowered with proper education; they’d be able to participate, to develop their communities, and to contribute to the cultural and political life… They will know their rights and their duties!”

Qena Governorate, Upper Egypt
Qena Governorate, Upper Egypt

These are the words of Zeinab Maghraby, whom we’ve had the opportunity to interview at ENID’s annual conference. Zeinab is a simple rural woman from Upper Egypt, specifically from a small town called “Gezeeret El Dom” in Qena governorate. We asked Zeinab to tell us, in her opinion, about the developmental challenges they face in Upper Egypt and how ENID’s initiative helps them overcome some of these challenges.

Empowering Women..

Modest as she seems, Zeinab makes some compelling arguments regarding the challenges that face development in Upper Egypt and how the government approaches their problems. She first talks about women and how they face many problems, especially in rural Egypt. Zeinab argues that women need to be empowered in the work environment as well as the political life. The underlying challenge, in her opinion, is illiteracy. She believes that an educated woman is fit for participation, advisory and change; whether in the scope of her small community or even in politics.

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ENID: A Call for developing Upper Egypt

The Egypt Network for Integrated Development (ENID) is a five-year initiative to develop viable and sustainable development and employment opportunities in South Upper Egypt, where levels of poverty and unemployment are high. ENID is holding its first annual conference today December 14th 2013 at the Marriott hotel in Cairo, Egypt. The opening session was a very fruitful one with lots of guest speakers; Prof. Heba Handoussa (Managing Director of ENID), Ms. Anita Nirody (Resident Representative of UNDP), H.E. General Adel Labib (Minister of Local Development), H.E. Dr. Ashraf El Araby (Minister of Planning), H.E. Dr. Ziad Bahaa El-Din (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Cooperation), Ali Gomaa (Egypt’s former Mufti and Head of Board of Trustees in Misr El Kheir) and Abdel Hamid El Haggan (Qena Governor).

ENID's Opening Session - Pannelists

ENID’s Opening Session – Panelists

ENID work is intended to be of use for both policy formulation and program development in each of its program areas. The first point of focus is the Governorate of Qena in South Upper Egypt. One of the things ُENID should be accredited for is that a lot of the participants are from Upper Egypt; and outside the conference hall, they are presenting and selling some of the handmade products made by Upper Egypt residents.

Ali Gomaa was the first speaker, he highlighted that Misr El Kheir (charity organization)  allocate 80 percent of its donations to Upper Egypt since it is under-developed and always neglected, while 20 percent is allocated to the rest of the country.

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“Financial inclusion and innovation in Africa” – AERC’s 39th Biannual Research Workshop

aaa-anniversaryThe African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)’s second Biannual Research Workshop of this year kicked off in Nairobi, Kenya, this morning. With a special focus on “Financial inclusion and innovation in Africa”, the 39th plenary session will be followed by concurrent sessions from December 2-5, 2013. Three papers are being discussed today, and followed by a policy round table discussion. The authors of the plenary papers are: Thorsten Beck (Tilburg University and Cass Business School); Laura Klapper (World Bank); Peter Ondiege (AfDB) and Lydia Ndirangu and Esman Nyamongo (Central Bank of Kenya).

Established in 1988 as a public not-for-profit organization devoted to the advancement of economic policy research and training in Africa, AERC celebrated yesterday its 25 years of excellence in capacity building in economic research and training, as well as service in economic policy research on November 30, 2013. This anniversary provides AERC with an opportunity not only to showcase its achievements over the years, but also to analyze the success factors for future research and training programs. Networking, collaboration and partnerships came up as main success factors which have been augmented by the synergy between research and the training programme.

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What challenges for development research in Latin America?

This post was written by Carolina Zuluaga, Assistant Editor Vox.LACEA

Is the Latin America and Caribbean region carrying out more research than in previous years? Are there more resources for research available in emerging countries? Is public policy more consequential with research results? The LACEA and LAMES 2013 invited session “Development Research Challenges”, sponsored by GDN, seeks to find the answers to these interrogations.

In order to make an outline of the challenges ahead for development research, globally and within Latin America, it is important to understand where we are now and what has been done in the last few years. In his intervention, Francois Bourguignon (Paris School of Economics) discusses how economic and development research has done a shift from a Macro to a Micro point of view in the last 15 years. Although Micro focused research brings unique elements to a given study such as access to micro data and to details of the behavior of agents, the universal perspective of things is lost. Hence we are losing analysis of Macro topics that are essential to economic research and that help us to pose better solutions to current problems. As a matter of example, in the case of education, we could say that we are educating more people through more effective programs, but deploying efforts in this direction does not mean we are creating more jobs for those people! In which case, it is not an all-inclusive solution to the problem but rather, we are just tackling one part of the problem. For Bourguignon, one of the main challenges for economic research is to go back to including the “big picture” in our analyses; combining thus the two lines of research, Micro and Macro.

Alan Winters (University of Sussex) highlights the impact that globalization has had on research topics in the last 10 years, going from migration and inequality to trade and investment. But recently, he says, another topic is becoming of great importance: Productivity. Future research needs to focus on productivity, especially on issues related to the environment, industrial policy and regulation, allocation of resources, infrastructure and the role of the government upon all these issues.

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