‘I really appreciate you saying that’: the challenges of developing a partnership

Cullen, Jane and Chitsulo, Joyce (2013). ‘I really appreciate you saying that’: the challenges of developing a partnership. In: UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development – Education & Development Post 2015: Reflecting, Reviewing, Re-visioning, 10-12 Sep 2013, Oxford, UK.


Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) is a community of teacher-educators in HEIs across Africa, led by the Open University UK. FAWEMA is the Malawian chapter of FAWE, the Forum for African Women Educationalists, committed to girls’ and women’s education in Malawi. TESSA/OU and FAWEMA have been working together since 2010, and in 2013 are beginning a new 4 year project, funded by DFID Malawi. The project is to facilitate rural women’s access to teacher education, by means of a 2 year ‘school experience programme’ where the women work as Teaching Assistants in local rural schools; and a programme of supported self-study, where the women take the secondary exams which could give them entry to teacher training college. The new project has provided a context for TESSA/OU and FAWEMA to interrogate how each constructs the partnership: the opportunity to look back and look forward. Negotiating the shape of the project, the share of the budget, and the parameters of responsibilities has allowed a much wider reflection on our relationship. The perspective of DfID Malawi has been key: their oversight is both of our project and of the ‘Keeping Girls in School’ programme, of which this project is one strand. This reflection by TESSA/OU and FAWEMA on our partnership has not been a particularly comfortable process, and this paper focuses on what continue to be some of the challenges ahead, as well as the opportunities.

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