Ron Maine talked about his experience with Participatory Learning and Action. He served as an Adult and Extension Education Specialist with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for 22 years. His work has taken him all over the world including countries like Portugal, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and so on. He received his training in participatory learning from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
Participatory Learning and Action are approaches where the people are fully engaged and participating in the processes of learning about their needs and opportunities, and in the action required to address them. Ron talked about some of the tools that they developed and used throughout his years of working for the UN. One example he showed us was of the workers in a vineyard drawing the timeline of their farming methods as he was explaining the process to the team that included Ron. Through explaining the process and visualizing the process using the timeline, the workers were able to recognize what their problem was. Can you guess what it is?
Participatory learning and action is seen as one of the effective ways of finding sustainable solutions to some of the big problems that face us today. Aside from the fact that the people involved know the most about the problem, by having them involved in the process and decision making, they are more likely to commit to the solutions and be accountable for them.
It was a great event, hearing from someone whose work involved working with people to find solutions. He also gave wonderful insights to some in the room who shared their experiences and/or struggles with participatory methods. Ron graciously shared with us a copy of the document talking about the different participatory tools that he developed. If you’d like a copy, send our membership director, Tom Bregman, an email request.