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New project aims to challenge barriers to learning in urban Africa

3 November 2017

A new project led by The Open University has been awarded funding by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The iBali Network project will last 15 months and is focused on helping young people in Africa to gain more from secondary education by using storytelling to increase engagement between teachers and young people.

Dr Alison Buckler, Research Fellow, who leads the project for The Open University, explained: “Secondary education is so incredibly important for young people, both personally and for the societies around them, and it underpins global development strategies. In Sub-Saharan Africa participation in education has increased significantly since the 1970s, but we see significant numbers of young people in urban areas who are attending school, but who are still excluded from learning for a wide range of reasons from under-resourced and overcrowded classrooms, to crime, social pressures and unstable home environments. It is this group of people that our work will focus on.”

Storytelling approaches integrate international, scholarly and indigenous narratives and increase the awareness and value of different forms of knowledge. The iBali Network (full title: ‘The iBali (story) Network: Democratising knowledge through creative storytelling with youth who are excluded from learning in urban African Schools’) will create a network of expert and early careers researchers (ECRs) and practitioners whose work focuses on using participatory storytelling to tackle social issues in urban areas of Africa that prevent young people from getting the most out of education.

The core project team is made up of internationally-renowned scholars from Nigeria, Kenya, UK, Sweden and South Africa., and the Advisory Group extends the geographical reach to Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Sierra Leone. Through the recruitment of ECRs, the iBali Network, the methodologies it promotes and the resulting impact, will be truly pan-African.

For more information about the project, follow the iBali team on Twitter.

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