Posted on 2 February 2017
Friday 20th January saw us celebrating the success of four students who have been in receipt of a Distance Learning Scholarship from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission as they graduated, with three of them travelling to York to be a part of this special ceremony. (The photo is of Lillian Karanja and Florence Rahiria)
The scholarships are designed to support promising scholars who work in roles that help take forward the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their countries. Chilufya Chileshe, Kingsley Chasanga, Lillian Karanja and Florence Rahiria all successfully completed a Masters of Public Administration (International Development) and are now applying the skills and knowledge that they have acquired in a range of demanding posts, based respectively in Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Papua New Guinea.
Being on the programme has also directly influenced career development and institutional capacity-building. Florence, who is Regional Manager for Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Pacific for the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research is the first Papua New Guinean woman to head up an Australian government agency based out of the High Commission in PNG. She gained two promotions whilst on the programme and says that:
"the distance learning scholarship not only gave me the opportunity to attain a UK postgraduate degree, it also demonstrated to my employer that if I could show commitment to my studies then I had the drive, determination and dedication to do the roles I applied for”.
Lillian, who has worked in health and nutrition-related roles in UNICEF and related organisations, comments that:
"With the MPA, I soon realised I had to adopt a more critical, analytical and interrogative approach. I began to enjoy this mode of learning, as it provided room for me to inject my voice, and to question the literature and the theories.
I am now also able to employ this mode of thinking in my work, and this has allowed me to innovate, create and influence my work place.
The modules challenged my patterns of thinking and this translated to my work place. For example, I studied the module on strategic planning at a crucial time for my organisation, and was able to use the knowledge I was gaining to analyse its key strengths and to identify strategic focus areas and opportunities for new ventures. This work proved to be of direct benefit to the future of my organisation, our programme design and our funders".
Chilufya, currently working for WaterAid as Southern Africa Regional Advocacy/Policy Manager, based in Zambia, notes that:
"The support from the tutors was exceptional. They always responded to queries and discussions, gave continuous feedback and also provided the occasional nudge to kick one back to life if you were slacking a bit. I often found that I could apply the module I was studying directly to a real-life work situation, and this made the programme even more relevant, more exciting for me. The support that I received from the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission enabled me to begin this journey and to keep focused".