Viewpoint: Joking Around in Zimbabwe, Undoing and Redoing Participation
In Zimbabwe, I teach a participatory course on environmental education to trainers. The course is an adaptation of a course designed by Rhodes University, South Africa. It gives participants a background in educational theories and has a strong theoretical component built around a focus on practice. During the time that the course was being delivered to non-industry participants, the theoretical component of the course was whole-heartedly embraced. We assumed that calling the course ‘participatory’ presupposed the need for this theory because within the theory were the tools for emancipation. And participation, we believed, had an emancipatory mandate. However, when we decided to redevelop the course for industry, we were uncomfortably surprised by the request from a majority of industry participants to reduce the theory and concentrate solely on skills-based training. This paper documents how this discomfort resulted in my adjusting my view of participation.
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