The power of participatory research and participatory diagraming led by community
Why research is important in social development
Research uncovers knowledge, and has now moved into the dimension of empowerment by engaging communities who are affected by a social problem.
Value of participatory research and participatory diagraming
Participatory research is collective self-reflective enquiry undertaken by community members in social situations to improve their own social practices. There are various methodologies of conducting social research, but participatory research is becoming one of the most widely accepted method in research practice. While conventional research (which treats the communities as providers of raw information) is often viewed with skepticism, participatory research engages community in research process at all stages. One of the most recent additions to participatory research tools is ‘participatory diagraming’ which include range of exercises like mapping, timelines, cartoons, matrices and pie charts, developed by the community groups in their local settings, especially in settings with literacy barriers.
The beauty of this method is that it is ‘collective’ in nature. For example, women in a community come together to prepare self-analysis of oppressive situations and the end-result is empowerment, as they learn to imbibe and act upon new knowledge, when their existing knowledge is valued. Many organizations in India, exploring into social change therefore form community groups and provide them simple tools to undertake analysis of their own situations.
Participatory research in education- landing of Turn the Bus model
In India there are 2.3 Non-Government Organizations for every 1,000 people in rural areas (globalgiving.org). However, there are challenges within this set of organizations. There is generally a lack of emphasis on research in many organizations. Of course, there are exceptional organizations that emphasise community knowledge in designing their programmes and solutions. Turn the Bus (an educational NGO) is a youth centric organization which is creating educational packages (in the digital realm) by engaging communities in rural Bihar, by using participatory research and participatory diagramming. It is growing in scope and reach with a focus on high quality, low cost, and replicable educational intervention. A community of practitioners across India and USA along with students and women’s collectives in Bihar have been part of the research process to develop and refine the educational package for students of 10th and 12th who are at the edge of making career decisions. Students enrolled in Turn the Bus platform spend a lot of time reading and attempting to understand their academic lessons which are prepared by best of educationists across the country. This innovative model is an outcome of the participation of the student community and research around challenges in achieving academic excellence in rural Bihar. Our research is not transient as it engages communities at all steps. Now with its education package at take-off stage Turn the Bus is consulting the community champions in education to take it to scale in the state of Bihar. With the support of the State education department this application shall be driven into the community of students soon.