By Le Thi Hong Phuong, PhD candidate and Prof Tran Duc Tuan
Creating networks and mapping of learning interactions
The mapping of learning interactions with the VACB farmer group in My Khanh community began at the start of the T-learning research project in Can Tho in 2016. As the blog about the co-defining matters of concern in Mekong Delta, Vietnam: case study in Can Tho city explains in order to create the conditions for the learning interactions among several stakeholders, particularly the VACB farmer group with outside stakeholders, our research established the local team with the researchers in Can Tho university and the key informants in the communities. Creating networks and mapping of the first learning interaction had in 2016 with the T-learning participants in Can Tho university, the researchers of the CDM project (Clean Development Mechanism), and JIRCAS project (Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences), and local authority (DARD, DONRE, DAE, CBOs, social civil groups). The aims of learning interactions were primarily to understand and explore the research contexts and matters of concern in the region. These participants from the university formed a local team with which we partnered and considered “T-teachers and T-stakeholders”. These participants were already familiar with the concept of learning community or continuous learning, therefore it is not difficult to encourage networks and mapping learning interactions via email, skype, facebook, or mobile phone. These interactions are considered the first round of learning interactions.
The second round of interactions, implemented between 2016 to September 2017, emerged in the first round of learning interactions and mostly took the form of networks . The networks of T-teachers and T-stakeholders, included key farmers in My Khanh community (are called “scientist farmers”) who were trained and self-studied to be the trainers in VACB model for other farmers and scientists in Can Tho University and attended in the T-learning activities in the community. The case of the “scientist farmers” is considered as a good germ cell for T-learning. This germ cell grows well and spreads learning activities on reducing energy consumption and using renewable energy in the community. This is due to factors such as response/willingness of the local people, the support of the project from the scientific and educational agencies (research institutes and universities), the international community and the involvement of local authorities as well. There were several informal talking, in-depth interviews, and participatory observation with the “scientist farmers” to deeply understand their matters of concern and the practical context of the communities, particularly the nexus of climate change – water – food – energy – social justice. The success of these “scientist farmers” and their innovations are important for the contextual profile for expanding learning and sharing. They also serve the function of a classroom where people can learn about the technology or exchange their knowledge and experiences. In addition, the second round of these learning interactions also has added the participants for the networks.
The third round for learning interactions involved creating the networks of the “scientist farmers” group. The participatory workshop was held in My Khanh commune, which were based on the reframing matters of concern and co-developing solutions to the communities in October 2017. The workshop, held on 12th October 2017, aimed to: (1) reconsider and examine how local people, especially farmers and government officials, understand climate change and in what ways climate change has posed impacts on their life and livelihood; (2) identification of popular climate-resilient agricultural models employed by farmers and investigate the process they have adopted and developed in their current farming model through which enduring lessons on social learning and transformative learning (T-learning) result naturally; (3) identification and examination of the difficulties and challenges facing local farmers in sustaining their current agricultural models (for example the VACB); and organization of an informal forum for local farmers to raise their awareness and their matters of concern over the climate change and environmental issues, fostering citizen science at a local level and networking with experts, scientists and the T-learning researchers. The workshop brought together 40 participants, including 28 local farmers selected from different villages around My Khanh commune, three local officials and experts, local authority, lectures and students from Can Tho university. At the workshop, participants have actively engaged in discussing and presenting different environmental issues facing their crops as well as their life.