By Eva Steketee, Oxford Summer Field Researcher
How can we make change happen? It may seem like a big question, but this is what all Generations For Peace (GFP) Delegates ask themselves before starting any programme. In technical terms, we call it the ‘Theory of Change’.
All this means is: what change needs to happen to transform a conflict and how can we make it happen? Creating change to transform a conflict can mean many things: it may be done by improving relationships between groups in a conflict, shifting the political culture or enacting a new law.
For GFP, conflicts can be made non-violent by transforming the behaviour and attitudes of people towards each other. This may sound simple enough in theory, but it is actually a very complicated task in practice! In Ghana, there is great ethnic, religious and social diversity within the population, which includes over 90 ethnic groups. In other words, this complexity makes Ghana a particularly interesting case for exploring a GFP Theory of Change in practice.
This month, as an Oxford Summer Field Research Intern for GFP, I will be researching the Theory of Change used in the GFP Sport For Peace Programme for Children (SPPC) in Accra, Ghana. The Accra SPPC runs sport for peace sessions at St. Peter’s School to reduce bullying between students from different social backgrounds: these include different religious, ethnic, socio-economic and gender backgrounds.
So how does the Accra SPPC intend to effect this change? According to the Delegates in Ghana, the best way to stop bullying is to increase the level of respect between students. In other words, if the students respect one another, they are less likely to belittle each other verbally or physically. With this agenda in mind, the local GFP Delegates ran their SPPC sessions with a group of 40 students (the Target Group) over the past year in the hopes of effecting tangible behavioural change.
But consider this: preliminary research carried out by the Ghanaian Delegates at St. Peter’s School has shown that boys and girls are affected by bullying differently, with more girls skipping school as a result. So here we have an additional issue: is bullying perceived and felt differently by different social groups? This is where my research comes in. Whilst the Delegates were best equipped to decide on the broader change needed within St Peter’s school, it is still important to determine whether this change suits all of the social groups involved. I want to find out if the ‘Theory of Change’ used in the Accra SPPC is successful and relevant for all social groups on the programme, especially all gender groups. So with my surveys ready and my pen in hand, I am going to be here for two weeks researching just this.
Whilst in Accra, I will be interviewing the local GFP Delegates running the local SPPC to find out why they think their Theory of Change is suitable for both genders and whether it has had successful outcomes. I will also give out surveys to the students who have participated in the programme and others in the school (including non-participating students and teachers) to discover whether they think bullying is a problem in their school and if so, what kind. This will also help me see whether, and how, the programme has changed the Target Groups’ behaviour towards their peers and teachers. I will also use focus groups to explore the survey findings in more detail. These research tools should give me all the insight I need to learn more about the relevance of GFP’s Theory of Change in Accra.
So if this research fascinates you as much as it fascinates me, then watch the GFP Blog and let’s find out how the Ghanaian Delegates make change happen!
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