Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

Transforming education for the world’s poorest and most underserved communities

Transforming education for the world’s poorest and most underserved communities

Malcolm Gifford, Director, GHNI UK, September 2015

Transforming health and education amongst the world’s poorest and most underserved communities is challenging, but several approaches have proved to be successful in recent years. One of these is Transformational Community Development (TCD), an approach trialled by a Swiss-based NGO, Global Hope Network International (www.ghni.org). TCD operates at the local level, but regional and national governments are also engaged so that improved standards of community health and education can be more readily sustained.

The starting point for TCD is a commitment from the communities themselves to take ownership of their development concerns and to work together to bring about transformative change. After initial assessments and with the support of national staff workers, community leaders draw up lists of priorities and action plans in 5 key areas: clean water, food security, health and wellness, education and income generation. With effort and a determination to change, the results from this holistic approach can be remarkable (www.globalhopenetwork.org/europe/village-transformation, https://vimeo.com/140355615, https://vimeo.com/140354721, https://vimeo.com/120705370)

National staff workers are themselves trained in the use of 100s of simple and low-cost health education techniques for improving basic hygiene, disease prevention, clean water supply, sanitation etc.

They then work with community members, educating them in the 5 key areas but also drawing on their innate abilities and initiative. External funding may be provided, such as for building health centres, schools or roads, but the overall emphasis is on empowering communities to help themselves – ‘a hand-up rather than a hand-out’. Local innovation is often the catalyst for transforming mind-sets and making development more lasting, helping even the poorest and most underserved communities to lift themselves out of poverty as much as they can, avoiding long-term dependency and giving them hope for the future.

TCD programmes in a given community usually run for about 5 years, but word spreads especially within clusters of rural villages and transformative education grows organically. Individuals who have benefited from TCD programmes can become trainers and agents for change themselves.

Governments and their national institutions are key to making development assistance sustainable. Professionally trained staff are vital for health centres and schools, for example, as are decent roads for facilitating access to and from local markets. Global Hope Network International (GHNI) therefore engages national and regional governments and other national institutions, encouraging them to support local TCD programmes and in several cases training them in transformational leadership and the principles of good governance.

GHNI also manages the Geneva Institute for Leadership and Public Policy which promotes a transformative approach to community development internationally. Annual conferences are held for senior government officials and other national leaders in developing countries, helping them to formulate their own policies for health, education and development, to exchange good practice and foster greater international collaboration and networking.

Global Hope Network International currently works in about 40 countries in Asia, the Middle-East and Africa, working both directly through its staff and through partners. It was given UN Special Consultative Status in 2012