Isaac Mpyana (Kenya, MSc in African Studies, 2014-15, Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld), carried out his pro bono project during his fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His research focused upon Katanga, the region from which Isaac’s own family originated, and he was therefore keenly aware of the area’s problems. One of these problems is the heavy reliance on mining, especially in terms of employment. Young people are by and large unaware of job opportunities in other sectors, such as agriculture.
In partnership with the Provincial Government of Katanga and the United Nations World Food Programme, Isaac worked on the Triennial Provincial Action Plan for Education. The plan, which aims to educate children about the opportunities open to them, was presented to various stakeholders in the education sector.
The provincial government’s commitment to the plan ensures that Isaac’s work is bound to make a difference to the millions of children in the country. The chief of staff to the cabinet of the provincial government wrote to the WHT praising Isaac’s contribution to the team and expressing his gratitude for the work he carried out.
Mastewal Taddese Terefe’s (Ethiopia, Master of Public Policy, 2015-16, Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann) pro bono work was based around an initiative she founded in 2013 to improve the quality of education in Ethiopia. This year, she and a colleague launched the Third Qine Practical Education Challenge, inviting high students across Addis Ababa to explore the local impact of global climate change from a disciplinary perspective. The programme will culminate in an academic symposium in August during which finalists will present and defend their work in front of their peers, teachers and other stakeholders. In August, she will also host the 4th annual Qine Forum on quality education – a continuation of the tradition started in 2013. This year, the forum will focus on teachers; giving due praise to their invaluable role in society while also engaging in a critical dialogue on the future of the profession in Ethiopia.
Kubo Mačák (Slovakia, DPhil Law 2013, Weidenfeld – Roland Berger) established an annual summer school for talented high school students from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.The Letná akadémia Discover (Summer Academy Discover, www.discover.sk) has been running since 2009 and it took its current shape of a week-long academy in 2011.
The summer school is organized by graduate students and recent alumni from top universities abroad, including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale. It seeks to expose high-achieving Czech and Slovak students to an atmosphere reminiscent of Oxbridge colleges, to broaden their knowledge of subjects they might study at university, and to foster the creation of a network of active and ambitious young people. The summer school has been regularly featured in Czech and Slovak national media and it has grown to more than 200 participants per year, with a teaching staff of over 40 lecturers—all of them volunteers.
After Kubo took up his post at the University of Exeter in 2013, a fellow Weidenfeld scholar Matěj Bajgar (Czech Republic, DPhil Economics 2014, Weidenfeld – Hoffmann) assumed his role on the organizing committee of the summer academy. Kubo remains involved as a lecturer and both scholars expect to reunite at the 2015 edition of the summer school, to be held in August in Podskalie, Slovakia.
Tabasum Wolayat (Afghanistan, MPhil Social Anthropology 2012-14, Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld) organised for 17 boxes of medical and legal textbooks to be transported from various Oxford College libraries to Kabul. After months of perseverance and overcoming arduous logistical issues, the books were eventually transported by the RAF from Brize Norton to the British Embassy in Kabul. The books are now housed within the Central Library of the Ministry of Education to be accessed by students studying at Kabul University. They will also be digitised so that students – girls in particular who find it difficult to travel to libraries – are able to have access to them online.
Ugochukwu Ezeh (Nigeria, MPhil Law, 2015-17, Weidenfeld-Hoffmann), research for the Oxford Pro Bono Publico was conducted as part of a broader project entitled ‘The Protection of the Human Rights of Non-Nationals under a Reformed UK Constitution: Lessons from International and Comparative Jurisprudence’. OPBP organised this project with the aim of making recommendations to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. Drawing on a wide range of comparative legal resources, the project examined the current state of constitutional protections for the rights of non-nationals in various jurisdictions in order to inform current initiatives regarding the civic rights of UK non-nationals in a proposed written constitution for the country.
Ugo was also involved in the commemoration for victims of human rights abuses. In this regard, his interests in this field have been shaped and informed by a belief in the importance of commemoration as a crucial aspect of democratisation in transitional societies. He wrote an article on the 276 school-girls abducted by extremist groups in Chibok, North-Eastern Nigeria that has recently been published in Media Diversified, an online advocacy platform for policy reform.
Globally, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) affect over one billion people. Most of the affected lack access to basic Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services and yet WASH is critical in the prevention and care of all NTDs (WHO, 2015).
Lydia’s Probono work supported the local government in increasing access to water, sanitation and hygiene services in 5 of the 46 villages affected by Podoconiosis (non-filarial elephantiasis) in Busiriba Sub-county, Kamwenge District.
The project employed a two phased participatory action research approach. Phase I assessed the challenges faced by affected households through literature analysis and face to face interviews and focus group discussions with farmers and local leaders. Using the information generated from Phase I, Lydia was able to establish the links between Podoconiosis, inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene services, and extreme poverty at household level.
In Phase II, Lydia rehabilitated Bwakala village protected shallow well (serving 35 households and 318 students from Kinoni (K) primary school during the dry season) and Kinoni (K) primary school rainwater harvesting system, constructed handwashing facilities (Tippy Taps) at Kinoni (K) Primary School, Busiriba sub-county offices, Rwajale C.O.U, and in 30 poor and vulnerable households, sensitised farmers and school going children on tippy tap construction, handwashing, foot hygiene, and water management, established two water and sanitation committees (clubs) for Bwakala village protected shallow well and Kinoni (K) Primary School, and donated 30 pairs of gumboots with stockings to 30 poor farmers in Bwakala, Bunoga, Busabura, Rwanjale and Kanimi villages. Community participation was encouraged throughout all phases and recommendations for a comprehensive systems approach to prevent and manage the disease has been submitted to the District Leadership.