Ayman Qwaider and Ingrid Lewis
EENET’s Arabic Language Community (ALC) has been growing for several years, enabling stakeholders in the Arab region to share inclusive education experiences. In 2022, Ayman Qwaider, EENET’s ALC Facilitator, started a project to remotely mentor a group of ALC members to develop action research and writing skills. They will ultimately help add more Arabic language content to EENET’s website. In this article, we provide an overview of the project and our future ambitions.
EENET’s approach to sharing
Since 1997 EENET has supported education stakeholders to document and share their inclusive education ideas and experiences. We enable multi-directional knowledge exchange and amplify the voices of educators, decision-makers and other stakeholders doing innovative inclusion work in contexts that are often not showcased on other global platforms. Their stories are shared through our website and in this annual publication, Enabling Education Review. However, it’s not enough simply to provide a platform for sharing documents.
Over the years many stakeholders who had exciting and informative stories to share have said: “we would love to publish our story, but we don’t know where to start with writing about our experiences”. That’s why, 20 years ago, we created a project to address this challenge. It was originally referred to as ‘writing workshops’ but quickly evolved into an action research project.
We recognised that to write a good article about inclusive education experiences, the writer needed to have the skills and confidence to dig under the surface of the story, and reflect critically on what works and needs improving from the perspectives of different stakeholders. A good inclusive education article is informative and honest, about the positives and negatives, not just a superficially positive promotional piece. And the process of writing about our experiences can lead to reflections and improvements in our own work, not just giving advice to other readers. EENET’s first action research project in 2002 supported teachers in Zambia1 and Tanzania to use creative ways to research and reflect on their own practices and what was happening in their school communities. Their hard work provided lots of lessons that we wrote up in an action research guide, and that we have continued to use and improve.2
Sharing in other languages
EENET’s Arabic Language Community has been steadily growing over the last few years but it faces ongoing challenges with sourcing inclusive education materials in Arabic. We really want to share much more content written in Arabic for the Arab region – not just Arabic translations of materials originally written in English from other parts of the world. This is why we have started the ALC writer mentoring project. Ayman started by supporting a small group of education professionals from different countries in the Arab region.
This project helps education stakeholders to build their skills and confidence to document their work and to collaborate with others to reflect on, document and share inclusive education experiences. We selected participants with a genuine interest in developing their action research and writing skills who could commit to participating in the full six-month process. The application form for the programme asked them to provide a brief description of their work and what they would like to share. The final selection of participants ensures a diverse representation of stakeholders from different contexts across the region.
The participants have attended two short Zoom workshops to discuss and learn more about inclusive education, action research, critical thinking, communication skills, and practical tips for writing short, accessible articles. They are currently carrying out small action research activities, investigating inclusive education experiences in their context. Ayman supports and mentors the participants, who in turn support each other, via WhatsApp and Zoom.
The participants will then write up their action research process and the inclusive education experiences they have investigated. Building on EENET’s editing process, the authors will receive ongoing peer and facilitator support to prepare and revise several drafts. EENET will publish the finished articles in Arabic in a special publication in 2023.
Expanding the project
We would like to run an ALC writer mentoring project every year to help support a growing cadre of investigators and writers and generate a library of Arabic language documents on inclusive education. We are seeking funding to develop similar mentoring opportunities for prospective authors in other regions.
Ingrid is EENET’s Managing Director.