We describe a participatory action research (PAR) project aimed at initiating a schools project as a component of the wider Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)–Wellcome Trust Research Programme’s (KWTRP) community engagement strategy in Kilifi.
Students and teachers from three nearby secondary schools, and scientists from KWTRP, were involved in designing and implementing a set of interventions aimed at promoting school awareness of locally conducted research, and positive attitudes towards school science and health research. The project was evaluated using a mixture of pre‐ and post‐intervention surveys and discussions with teachers, students, researchers and other stakeholders throughout the duration of the project. The project did appear to fill some knowledge gaps about research and contribute to enhancing students’ educational experiences, as intended. However, the project also provided a forum where teachers and students could express their concerns and question research practices, and unexpectedly promoted learning among researchers themselves. Further work is needed to learn more about the potential of school engagement to provide benefits for research institutes, individual researchers and local schools.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 43.5 (2012) Introduction: Is Development Research Communication Coming of Age?