Press release

International scholars arrive in Dundee

Published on 13 February 2020

Academics from Ghana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe are spending three months at the University of Dundee as part of a programme helping to cement the impact of the award-winning Growing up on the Streets project.

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Academics from Ghana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe are spending three months at the University of Dundee as part of a programme helping to cement the impact of the award-winning Growing up on the Streets project.

GCRF fellowship programme: Building capacity and creating influence takes place from January to May and will culminate in dissemination activities in all three African countries as well as joint academic outputs.

The fellowship is supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund. It will contribute to translating the findings from Growing up on the Streets into practice and policy focused on poverty reduction, reduced inequalities and sustainable livelihoods for homeless young people. The researchers will focus on areas that cross-cut with UN Sustainable Development Goals around good health and well-being, gender equality and partnerships.

Growing up on the Streets investigated the experiences of street children in Africa, co-led by Professor Lorraine van Blerk of the School of Social Sciences.

Dr Ernestina Korleki Dankyi (University of Ghana), Dr Witness Chikoko (University of Zimbabwe) and Thandie Hlabana (National University of Lesotho) arrived in Scotland early in the new year for the programme, which aims to build their academic skills while enabling Dundee-based researchers to benefit from their insights into the vast data set collected by the project team.

The fellowship is hosted by Geography, School of Social Sciences, with members of the team also being drawn from the Schools of Dentistry and Nursing and Health Sciences. Professor Alison McFadden from Health Sciences and Professor Ruth Freeman from Dental Public Health Research are contributing to the project.

Dr Chikoko said, “I hope that this fellowship will allow us to learn from each other. As a social worker by training, I have a lot of experience of working with street children and youth and know well the challenges they face each day. I believe I have knowledge that will benefit the team in Dundee while this fellowship presents many opportunities for me.

“What I particularly want to gain from it is mentorship that will help me write papers targeting high-impact journals. Scholars in the global south often face difficulties in being published in journals from the global north. Unless we can break into them our voices will not be heard and we will not be able to bring about change.”

For Dr Hlabana, the fellowship offers an invaluable opportunity to learn in a different environment at an early stage of her career. “For a relatively new academic like myself this is a wonderful experience that will hopefully help make a difference to the lives of children," she said.

“We will not only learn from working with the academics from Dundee but also from each other. Our countries are very different economic, social and political entities but what we all want to do is help children and youth and that means learning from what is being done elsewhere.”

Growing up on the Streets is run under the auspices of the University in collaboration with the StreetInvest charity, and has been recognised for its extraordinary contribution to research impact.

The project investigated the lives of hundreds of young people in Ghana, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo over a three-year period through an innovative participatory and qualitative approach. The project results explore poverty, exclusion and homelessness from a capabilities perspective and aim to stimulate debate on the factors that shape life lived on the street and the representation of street children in national and international policy.

Dr Dankyi says participants being empowered by training into how to conduct research themselves was vital to delivering the changes they need.

“I have carried out studies into the experiences of street children for many years and the fact Growing up on the Streets enabled children and youth to carry out the research and shape its findings is a very important aspect of the project," she explained. In Ghana, we need to increase the number of interventions taking place to help children in this situation and Growing up on the Streets has a real commitment to working with children and youth themselves.”

As well as taking advantage of dedicated research time and attending seminars and training sessions, the GCRF Fellows will also take part in a series of events and activities where they will share insights with University staff and students while they are in Dundee.


Grant Hill

Senior Public Affairs Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768
Story category Academic collaboration