The goal of development work is to effect change or transformation in a community. However, sustainable development can only arise from a sincere and combined effort among all stakeholders. The role of the social worker is, therefore, to facilitate collaboration among the various entities towards the desired outcomes. As the year kicks off, Silveira House took some time to review its approach to development work and to revive its commitment to transforming communities. To invoke interest, confidence and commitment among members of staff, Ms Ronah Mugadza, a former employee facilitated a capacity enhancement and motivational two-day seminar on Training for Transformation (TfT). The topics covered ranged from the theory or philosophical underpinning of TfT, that is: its origins and historical development, vision and mission, scope and dimensions, to its application in generating themes such as Conflict and Peace Building. The workshop also presented an opportunity for the Silveira House to rediscover itself, its contribution to the development of TfT, and its purpose in Zimbabwe as a Social Justice and Development Centre.
To open the Seminar, participating members of staff shared their individual experience of TfT. This exercise revealed the different levels in understanding and applyication TfT among the participants in their various works. This is mainly due to the compartmentalization of Silveira House staff into strict Administrative and Programming roles. Programme staff interact more with the TfT in comparison to their counterparts, however, not always fully conscious of it. An Institutional TfT seminar of this nature took place in 2007, whereas much of the programming staff is fairly new and thus not well versed with it.
The contextual analysis of Zimbabwe that followed pointed out issues of concern such as the episodic violence, intraparty conflicts, widespread corruption and the economic meltdown. Participants concluded that the country is in need for transformation from the grass-root to national levels as a way to stimulate discussion and urge citizens to participate in the much needed national transformation.
Origin, Vision and Dimensions of TfT
TfT is a product of Paulo Freire’s philosophy of education (1921-1997) (See The Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for Critical Consciousness…). Freire’s approach challenged the traditional education system, which he called the Banking System, that is, treating the student like a passive recipient of knowledge who is expected to reproduce it to demonstrate understanding.
TfT arose from an adult literacy programme conducted by Freire in Brazil in the 1960s. His method took into account the experience and contribution of the student to the learning process, thus shifting the balanc and creating a complementarity relationship between the student and teacher. The method became popular among Catholics and a common practice among Small Christian Communities in the Church.
Freire’s philosophy of education has the following guiding principles:
- No education is ever neutral,
- Education must be relevant,
- The approach must be problem posing,
- Learning must be organized in ways that promotes dialogue,
- Reflection and action praxis, and
- Radical transformation
Hope and Timmel developed this philosophy into TfT to make it practical and accessible by integrating Freire’s philosophy with insights from their experience in human relations, organizational development, social analysis, spirituality and the reflection-action praxis gathered from training communities; challenging top-down with bottom-up approaches. Initially TfT was called Development Education for Leadership Teams in Action (DELTA). The first advanced training programmes were conducted at Silveira House, Harare in 1992. Training materials were also revised and further developed at Silveira House.
Conflict and TfT
As noted earlier, Zimbabwe is relatively a politically unstable environment. Therefore, any development initiative must take into account issues of conflict in order for sustainable change to take place. The workshop interactions emphasized the symbiotic relationship between conflict and development. When assisting or facilitating programmes among communities, development workers ought to be cognisant of the existing conflicts in the area since these can, on one had, hinder the achievement of desired outcomes or, on te other hand, the programme itself may create or exacerbate conflicts. Hence, one should always keep in mind the Do no harm principle.
Using a case study entitled, Go and Live with the Police, the facilitator demonstrated the Do no Harm principle. Participants observed and appreciated how, by engaging communities in the process of finding solutions to their conflicts, TfT can be an effective method in the area of peace building.
Another key principle of TfT is Peace writ large. The principle brings out the importance of an in-depth and all encompassing (or participatory) analysis of the context in which the conflict is experienced. Key questions to guide the analysis include, what is the source of the conflict? What needs to be stopped? What are the dimensions and dynamics of the conflict at national, regional and international levels? By so doing, efforts at grassroots level can contribute to change the bigger picture i.e. transforming individuals, groups, communities, institutions, wider society and the environment.
The use of Codes (graphic illustrations) is one useful method employed by TfT in order to trigger or generate themes for discussion, for example, gender based conflict at household level. The facilitator used an image of a couple on a journey to illustrate how men and women take positions on gender inequality issues. Codes have the power to stimulate emotions and help people deal with issues the often take for granted.
The two-day workshop provided a platform for the staff to interact and share experiences by undergoing the TfT seminar as a course on the one hand and a transformative process on the other hand. The topics discussed had a bearing on the staff’s respective areas of work. The seminar helped the participants to become familiar with the origins, vision, dimensions and various levels of TfT, its historical development, key concepts, and application. As hoped for, the participants emerged motivated and inspired.
We have confidence in our staff’s commitment to TfT and to their work of assisting communities in their efforts towards transformation.