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1.2.3: Education, Health & COVID-19: Where We might Go From Here
Tuesday, 17/May/2022:
1:00pm - 2:30pm

Chair(s): Amy Cooper,

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Transforming Ourselves and Transforming Our Community: A Case Study of Learning Theory and Practice within Society of the Universal Learner in Bihar, India

Elisa Samara Cooper

University of Guelph, Canada

This paper shares findings from a study that examined the dynamics of learning within Society of the Universal Learner (SOUL), a community-based organization operating in Bihar, India. SOUL supports rural communities to strengthen local education systems. Using a participatory action research methodology organized around interviews and focus group discussions, the study found that SOUL was already using a wide range of tools, strategies, and approaches to learn about complex questions related to rural education. SOUL’s learning practice was informed by an understanding of learning as a process of individual and collective transformation that advances through consultation, action, and reflection. The participants, who were staff of SOUL, demonstrated a strong understanding of system dynamics in relation to village-level education even though they did not explicitly use language and concepts from systems theory. SOUL’s strong understanding of rural education systems and its approach to learning have enabled the organization to adapt to gradual and sudden systemic changes, including the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper integrates concepts from systems thinking with SOUL’s practical experience in a framework that can be used to design and assess learning processes in complex systems.

Post-crisis impacts for Chinese Stakeholders in Canadian University International Education Programs – with a case study for campus-based survey evidence

Yun Liu

University of Regina

Addressing impacts by the recent crisis of bilateral relations upon Chinese non-state actors engaging Canada-China university partnership programs, this paper has a critical review on the scholarship on Education Diplomacy relevant for the debates on Public Diplomacy and soft power. It further conducts a campus-based questionnaire to collect anonymous responses from Chinese students and scholars as stakeholders to analyze post-crisis opportunities and challenges in restoring Canada-China learning mobility activities. Our survey samples have shown positive signs confirming comparative advantage by Canadian university international programs; they also express higher concerns for domestic recognition and personal safety as expected for their study/visiting plans. Their voices project some levels of relief to the recent de-escalation of bilateral tension while calling for more practical measures to be adapted for sustainable cooperation.

Navigating fear and care: The lived experiences of community-based health actors in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic

Warren Dodd1, Laura Jane Brubacher1, Sara Wyngaarden1, Amy Kipp1, Victoria Haldane2, Hannah Ferrolino3, Kendall Wilson3, Danilo Servano Jr.3, Lincoln L. Lau3, Xiaolin Wei2

1School of Public Health Sciences, University of Waterloo; 2Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto; 3International Care Ministries

The activities of community-based health actors are widely recognized as critical to pandemic response and health systems resilience; yet, there exists a lack of clarity as to how actors contribute to resilience in practice, who is included in this ecosystem of actors, and how they experience the complexity of delivering community-level care. This research aimed to (1) characterize the lived experiences of community-based health actors in the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines; and (2) identify opportunities for further supporting these critical actors in the health workforce. Virtual interviews were conducted (Jan-Feb 2021) with 28 workers employed by a Philippines-based NGO to explore their lived experiences in COVID-19. Data were analyzed thematically using a hybrid inductive-deductive coding process, informed by Tronto’s conceptualization of an ethic of care. NGO workers’ lived experiences were shaped by discourses of fear and care, and the interaction between these two affects. They experienced fear of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others; perceived fear among community members where they worked; and fear of COVID-19 testing, recognizing the personal and social implications (e.g. stigma) of a positive test. In the context of fear, care was a powerful motivator to continue their work. An organizational culture of care helped elide their fears, as their NGO promoted self-care strategies, implemented safety protocols, and provided material supports to those in quarantine. Fear and care, inextricably connected, motivated adherence to COVID-19 protocols, which assuaged fears and were seen as mechanisms of caring for others. These findings contribute to understanding the ecosystem of actors involved in community engagement efforts and the challenges they encounter in their work, particularly in a pandemic context. We highlight implications for civil society organizations charged with protecting the mental and physical well-being of their workers and, more broadly, for ensuring the ongoing resilience of local health systems.

Covid-19 and Healthcare Waste Management in Urban Africa. Implications for Development

Jeffrey Squire

York University, Canada

Recent outbreaks of epidemics such as the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and the ongoing global Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic with its multiple mutations and ultra contagious variants has brought a renewed focus on healthcare waste management in urban Africa. Such wastes are known to contain infectious and toxic substances that can potentially cause serious diseases in human populations as well as significant damages to the environment. Mitigating such risks requires a well-coordinated management approach involving multiple stakeholders as well as the availability of technical, financial and human resources. Additionally, feasible regulatory instruments replete with effective means of implementation, enforcement and monitoring are deemed essential for the sound management of healthcare wastes. These are areas where most cities in Africa face tremendous challenges, a situation compounded by a surge in demand for healthcare services since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. To date, close to 10.7 million Coronavirus infections and 236,000 fatalities have been reported in Africa (Reuters, 2022). In addition to providing care for patients, officials have rolled out massive testing and vaccination campaigns aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. However, not much is currently known or understood about the management of healthcare wastes since the pandemic. Drawing from post-positivist methodological approaches this presentation assesses the development implications of healthcare waste management practices in urban Africa since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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