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An ethnographic case study of a university community engagement programme of a public university in Ghana

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posted on 12.05.2016, 11:45 by Iddrisu Mahamadu Tanko
While universities provide quality education, they also offer a range of social, economic, and cultural activities to their host communities. In Ghana, University Community Engagements are part of the government’s initiatives aimed at the redistribution of prevelege nationality, educational inequalities and eradicating poverty. However, not many studies have been carried out on community engagement in this part of the world, as most studies have concentrated on faculty and students. This is a seven week ethnographic study of a village in Northern Ghana focussing on stakeholders understanding, participants concerns and power relations in an engagement programme. The study aims at understanding the shift in dispositions that enabled students to advocate eradication of poverty, network with colleagues and future leaders from different disciplines, to research and present prioritized proposals by the villagers.Seven weeks were spent following eleven students and four subsequent weeks in the community. Participant observations, interviews and documentary evidence were employed. Semi structured interviews were later conducted with nine university leaders and two District Assembly staff representimg the Assembly as a stakeholder located outside the village. Key arguments engaged regarding participation include providing empowering strategies to community to give voice, eradicate poverty and power relationships that challenged and support emancipation. The key findings of the study from a thematic analysis indicated varying degrees of understanding amongst stakeholders and asymmetric power relations that affects the entire programme. Based on these findings, and consistent with the wider literature, recommendations are that the engagement should be based on equal partnership among all stakeholders to encourage full cooperation and effective participation. It is hoped that the findings will contribute to increased participation and a greater stakeholder involvement.The research may also lead to programme restructuring and ultimately a review of the relationship between the university and other stakeholders. More importantly, it may influence policies to address the increasing disparities and poverty which affect community participation in the engagement process.



Taysum, Alison; Pedder, David

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School of Education

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University of Leicester

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