Last month (December), I posted a blog item about the conference on the ‘Changing role of knowledge for development.’
At that moment, Dr Ncayiyana’s presentation was not online but now it is, together with the other keynote presentations. On the subject ‘Knowledge for development: perspectives from Southern Africa’, he says a number of things which resonate with what IKM Emergent is trying to achieve:
- Knowledge purveyors and the recipient community must have common objectives
There can be a world of difference between what the purveyors of knowledge, that is, those bringing knowledge for development, think the community needs, and what the community itself believes it wants.
- Development requires multi-sectoral knowledge
Health-related knowledge by itself will not achieve optimal impact on development without knowledge transfer in other sectors. Development is a symbiotic process requiring multi-sectoral input.
- Knowledge means change, and change is not always welcome
Knowledge transfer is intertwined with change, and the benefits are not always immediately apparent to the recipient community. People tend to resist change, particularly where it clashes with traditional community values.
- Knowledge transfer is a two-way street
Knowledge transfer is a two-way street. The purveyor of knowledge must be prepared to learn about the community from the community.
What role for knowledge institutions in the North to influence development in the South?
North can support South in the critical processes of:
- Share knowledge with the institutions and communities in the developing nations to support the acquisition of existing knowledge
- Assist in human capacity development through fellowships and postgraduate training of scholars from the South to enable institutions in developing nations to be in a position to absorb the shared knowledge [fellowships, postgraduate qualifications]
- Assist in the establishment or enhancement of an appropriate infrastructure (ICT, computers, library facilities) for the communication and exchange of knowledge from North to South, but also locally within the affected developing community. [MUNDO-Fontys project to establish a wireless ICT network in Tamale]
To sum it all up, knowledge institutions in the North can best assist by assuming a mentoring and nurturing role while being careful not to create a relationship of dependency and an attitude of entitlement.