Research Community Development

Communities of Learning and Action – a case study of the Human Rights, Democracy and Development project, 1999-2005

Researcher: Dr Vaughn John

Dr Vaughn John obtained his doctorate after conducting a study on a community-based adult education and development intervention in rural KwaZulu-Natal. Using case study methodology within a critical paradigm, the study critically narrates, analyses and theorises practices, learning, and identity development within the Human Rights, Democracy and Development (HRDD) project. The HRDD project offers important lessons about adult education and development in contemporary South Africa.

The thesis highlights the importance of paying close attention to the lives of learners and educators in educational projects, as well as the importance of context and history as primary shapers of learning and action. The levels of struggle and fear which emerge through the case study present a portrait of life circumstances and learning contexts which are distinctly anti-dialogical and oppressive. The portrait also depicts the lives of several tenacious women who continue to struggle and learn in hope. The thesis concludes with discussion of an emergent conceptual model which considers the impact of contextual factors such as poverty, patriarchy and power struggles on learning, personal transformation and social change.