The largest IKM event of 2009 was the Knowledge for Development workshop jointly organised with the Centre for Technical Assistance and the University of Namibia in November. The goal of the conference was to raise awareness of the importance of understanding the role of knowledge in development and to discuss what understandings of knowledges were most relevant to contemporary challenges of Southern Africa. Both aims were realised. The conference received considerable attention in the local media, including an hour long debate on the main current affairs TV show.
The debate on knowledge was also very productive. Recognition of multiple knowledges served as a starting point for discussions ranging from the role of knowledge in development, through the sources and nature of relevant knowledge to practical reflection on the possible syllabi for Knowledge and development masters courses under development at a number of African Universities represented at the meeting.
Of particular interest were the Indigenous Knowledge Courses offered by North West University in South Africa which can either be studied as full degrees or as modules combined in other courses, including some very practically oriented ones such as tourism. Follow up work is planned developing and piloting locally relevant curricula and linking postgraduate study with knowledge management work in national development organisations in Namibia.
In terms of my personal experience, this was one of the most rewarding ones of my professional career for a number of reasons. Firstly, the cooperation between the individuals and institutions organizing the workshop was really the best in which I’ve ever been involved: we all supported each other. Secondly, the participants were of very high calibre and were interested in the topics, and there has been a lot of follow-up since then. And thirdly, we were successful, I think, in basing the conception of KM4D on participants own perspective on KM and development.