Transformative learning is defined as the capacity to be continuously engaged in reflection on experience through questioning why things are the way they are to reach the root causes of problems. It requires that learners propose solutions and take actions to implement them which actions give rise to further reflection on the effectiveness of action and the accuracy of the analysis. Transformative learning can be applied to any situation, and to any sector since the act of questioning can be about issues in the home, in the economy of the community or of the nation, environmental degradation, national security or women’s rights or children’s rights. It can be learned by children as well as by adults. What is important about transformative learning is that it must go beyond questioning to the proposition of solutions and actions to implement those solutions as an individual or together in community. Transformative learning is linked to a critical pedagogical tradition education promoted by theorist such as Freire, Horton, Belenky, Brookfield, through Training for Transformation methodology.
Transformative learning is identified as a thematic area because it is a natural way of learning. However, it is yet discouraged in institutions of learning, giving preference instead to learning that is gained from instruction and one-way communication rather than learning that is gained from questioning, reflection and offering solutions and action by both the student and teacher. The creative capacity of the learner is therefore not harnessed nor is their confidence in themselves as knower’s or creators of knowledge, to be able to take ownership of and responsibility for the learning process. This creates the tendency to look outward for initiating change in our reality, waiting for the NGO, the government or the donors. Transformation, therefore, becomes slow, unsustainable and difficult to achieve and most importantly in the hands – or at the discretion of- another party. The transformation will not be without challenges but when learners are empowered and can take control of their situations, change becomes a sustainable process that is people driven and people empowered.
For instance in 2014, IST conducted mentoring and coaching sessions for Oxfam Novib partners’ in gender mainstreaming. Organizations such as CEWIT, PELUM and ESSAF received technical support in formulating their respective organizational gender policies. This would enhance accountability and tracking of progress in gender mainstreaming at institutional and program levels.
IST also continued to train gender champions at organization and community level to increase understanding of gender issues and collection of gender disaggregated data. The Institute trained 36 gender champions of Health Action Group’s (HAG) under the Oxfam partnership. The participants included paralegals, health champions and Village health team members (VHTs).
In addition, a gender mainstreaming progress review meeting was held bringing together executive directors, senior program officers and trainers of all partner organizations supported by Oxfam Novib. Some of the successes reported include;
· Gender sensitive policies are in place
· Partners conduct gender analysis at project inception and are keen through the implementation process
· Improvement in collecting gender disaggregated data
· A positive shift in gender relations was reported at house hold levels
· A total of 5276 change agents were trained who constitute both direct and indirect beneficiaries trained by IST and the partner organizations.
The Institute trained and mentored 75 young and middle level professionals from civil society organizations in professionalism. This would enable them raise their standards and exploit the opportunities in the changing paradigm of employment to meet demands for multi skilled and resilient gender conscious individuals.