The 10 year Institutional University Cooperation programme of VLIRUOS (www.vliruos) with the Anton De Kom University (www.uvs.edu) of Suriname provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the institutional development of a university in the South. With the motto ‘Sharing minds, Changing lives’ VLIR-UOS captures the fact that building the capacity of academic institutions will enable societies to independently find solutions for local development problems. In this specific project, a master programme was developed and installed a the Faculty for Societal Sciences of the Anton De Kom University of Suriname, addressing the themes ‘Civil Participation’, ‘Community Development’, ‘Poverty Alleviation’ and ‘Entrepreneurship’. At the moment, the Master in Education and Research for Sustainable Development (MERSD) serves over 300 master and PhD students and graduates and is led by prof. dr. Henry Ori.
Project leaders dr. Randy Van Zichem and prof. dr. Tom Vanwing of the VLIR-IUC Partnership ADEKUS teamed up with UNDP-Suriname director Armstrong Alexis and coordinator Peggy Panka of the Ministry of Regional Development to challenge the students of cohort 5 and 6 of the MERSD to conduct an appreciative inquiry related to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
The purpose of this project was to present the voices and opinions of the Suriname community to the national and international policy level. The findings of these ‘voices’ where presented by the students at a seminar on the 15th of January 2016. The results of the inquiry focuses on the health sector in Surname seen from the perspective of health care workers and nurses; the voices of primary school teachers about their class climate and assets; experiences of primary school students about the impact of social media on their educational process; small-scale farmers about their perception of climate change; and women about the emotional processing of prenatal mortality in Suriname.
Next to the public seminar to “let these Voices be heard and acknowledged’, a panel of ‘bridge builders’ from the academic and policy level, were assigned to bring these insights to the next level by providing them a policy paper and further support through research.