I had my first meeting yesterday with my supervisor, and it went fairly well. So far my progress has been limited to drafting the thesis proposal and finding a bunch of literature – so not very much, but I am quite well on track time-wise and the purpose of this meeting is just to make sure I’m getting started in the right direction.
In case you’re wondering, the proposed topic is adult literacy development in East Africa.
He was fairly impressed with the bibliography since it’s quite a bit larger than the ones he’s seen from other students (right now it’s sitting at 55 sources). I don’t doubt that at least half of it will be of no use to me whatsoever, but I’m pretty sure plenty of it will be quite useful. It’s quite heavy on the historical and background material, though there is a bunch of quite recent stuff there as well. Which our library doesn’t have, of course, so I’ll have to put in my acquisition requests quite soon. What I haven’t found is some really good ethnographic case studies, but I expect I’ll be able to dig some up.
We also discussed my research questions. They are:
- How are literacy programmes (as development interventions) designed, managed, and implemented? By whom? Where? In what contexts?
- What are the underlying assumptions evident in these development programmes? Are they borne out in reality?
- How are the programmes received by participants and perceived by other (non-participating) members of the community?
- What are the programme outcomes, according to the development agency, participants, and community members?
- What are people’s experiences of attempting to become literate?
- What are the implications of literacy programmes being deployed as a development strategy?
Some of them are more to find out background information, which will help me make my argument (1, 3, and 4) and others are more in-depth questions, the answers to which would be my argument (2, 5, and 6). My supervisor also had a really good idea about comparing different types of literacy programs – secular vs. religious, for example – which would presumably have different approaches and goals.
So, my job for the next meeting will be to refine my research questions, decide which routes of investigation to follow, and find the literature that’s going to answer those questions for me.