On March 7 the Southern African Rurality in Higher Education (SARiHE) Project booklets were formally launched in Johannesburg, with 24 of the student co-researchers, the research team, social media and policy makers from around South Africa. It was a moving event as the student co-researchers delivered stories about their journeys, two praise poets celebrated the whole journey and we launched the booklets in 7 different languages (more to come).
The project is investigating the transition from rural school and home contexts to university learning and is a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Johannesburg, Rhodes, Fort Hare and Brighton. At the three South African universities student co-researchers documented their prior learning in rural areas and their experience as university students, as well as how they negotiated the transition to and through higher education. The research will develop inclusive teaching and learning practices and make significant contributions to the concept of rurality, widening participation, equity, social justice and de-colonised curricula in higher education across Southern Africa and more widely.
During a series of 3 workshops led by Gina Wisker and Rachel Masika from the University of Brighton, with support from PhD and postdoc colleagues at the SA universities, the student co-researchers developed skills for writing for publication, peer reviewing and editing for a specific readership. They also designed, wrote and produced the booklet. The aim is to inform others about transition into and through university, and to both indicate challenges and how to deal with them (everything from enrolment to accommodation to language) enthuse and offer models which make the process accessible. The audience is the future students, the supportive families and communities, and universities. The booklet, part of research impact from the project, also acts as an example of a co-produced, co-researched product using the data from the project (Evernote pages and text with their permission) offering to universities and policy-makers evidence of the dedication, enthusiasm and social justice aims of the participants. The co-researchers shaped it, wrote it and their voices and images are the ones within it.
Link to the booklets here.