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Programme of study: MA in International Development
Nationality: Vietnamese, from Hanoi
What motivated you to study in Maynooth University and on this particular programme:
To be honest, development is not my background. I have gained my knowledge of development mainly through experience during a ten-year period of working with NGOs in Viet Nam. When I worked with senior officers or policy makers, I did not feel so confident because I still lacked in-depth knowledge of development. “It’s time to learn more” - I talked to myself. I needed to deepen my knowledge and develop my professional skills. I wanted to have a holistic understanding of development theory and practices.
I wanted to go abroad to take this course as I believed I could get more valuable experiences and enjoy a better learning environment in a developed country. Importantly, I wanted to learn about international experience in development work. I shared my thoughts with my friend and he encouraged me to apply for the course in Maynooth University. I started to search for information about the MA in International Development in Maynooth University and found that the modules being delivered in the course were completely interesting. They were totally related to my work as a development practitioner. I also know that the quality of this programme is much better in Maynooth University than any other Irish universities. Particularly, the course is taught by professional lecturers with tens of years working in the international development sector in Ireland.
Usual work/study in home country:
Having worked as the Ethnic Minorities Working Group (EMWG) Coordinator at the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre in Vietnam, I have coordinated EMWG events directly. Many individuals from the ethnic minority communities are empowered through having participated in our activities. They become capable to speak out in policy platforms, seminars, and dialogues at different levels.
I take pride in having contributed to increased partnerships between the EMWG, development partners and governmental agencies. In addition, I have done my best to build up close cooperation between the group and other civil society organisations (CSOs) and networks to promote gender equality and non-discrimination of vulnerable groups in Vietnam. They include, but are not limited to, preparation of the
CSO complementary report on implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Vietnam in 2015 and the joint report to the Human Rights Council’s Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Viet Nam in 2018.
Last but not least, I have made an effort to construct a database of organisations working in remote and mountainous areas of Vietnam, which was launched in 2014. It was the first database of its kind, which still serves as the main source of relevant information for the NGO community, development partners, governmental agencies, academia and individuals.
Area of interest and/or favourite module in the MA:
To be honest, all the delivered modules in this course are interconnected and equally valuable to me. As a development worker in the era of globalisation and integration, I myself believe that development is not development without people. Each module of the course seems to be a separate piece of a puzzle. In order to make a whole picture, each piece needs to be fitted or stays aside. While the modules of Development Theory and Practice and Political Economy of Development provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the history of development, practices of development over time, power dynamics in development contexts, and the focus and role of SDGs, the modules of Human Development, Adult Learning, Result-based Management, Gender and Development, Human Rights and Advocacy, Anthropology and Globalisation, and Sustainable Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation place a focus on people. From people to people, people are at the centre of development in all spheres and at all levels. Importantly, the module on Research Methods helps to instruct students how to conduct social research in practice, which is an essential skill of a development practitioner.
What do you think is unique about the programme?:
Value every single value - the programme and the lecturers fully respect the diversity of their students. Every student has an opportunity to freely express their thoughts, feelings and experiences. Words are counted and values are widely shared and fully recognised in this programme.
"My experience of undertaking the MA in International Development Studies at Maynooth University (online based) has benefited me in many ways including through the rich online exchanges of knowledge with peer students from all over the world, exposure to the practical exercise of field and desk-based research, expert tutorship on the various fields of international development, and the work pressure which naturally boosted my self-discipline and time management skills". Shylet Makoni
Name: Shylet Makoni Year of graduation: 2019 Nationality: Zimbabwean Current location: Harare, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa Work at present: Scientific & Industrial Research & Development Centre; Assistant to Executive Director - Technical Services Area of interest/favourite module in the MA: Adult Learning for Development. The module exposed me to radically empowering methods of knowledge-transfer where education and development are intertwined, with everyone contributing towards their desired kind of social transformation and poor communities taking full ownership of their own development.
I have really enjoyed my first year of the (MH121) International Development BA degree at Maynooth University. It has been interesting and engaging. The course examines the relationship between the global north and the global south and highlights the inequalities that exist at different spatial scales.
The first year of the course was mainly theoretical which was necessary to give us an understanding of the way development was practiced in the past and how it has changed over time in addition to nailing down what the term ‘development’ means to various actors. The first year of the course gave me a broad overview of the different approaches to development, how development is measured and mismeasured, the complexities and different scales involved and the actors involved and their various and sometimes interchangeable roles in the development process.
We examined different political ideologies, theories of social justice and major obstacles to development along with challenging our sometimes preconceived notions of what life is like in various less developed countries. If you are interested in who has power in the world and how and why they use it as they do, then you will find this course very interesting.
I also took Geography and Anthropology in addition to International Development and the three subjects matched together very well. Other class members matched International Development with various subjects such as Law, Business, Spanish, and Sociology etc. I think it fits really well with many other subjects as it crosses into many disciplines within Arts and Social Sciences.
I particularly liked the module on Ethics. Every company, in particular NGOs, works within an ethical framework and therefore, this module will benefit anyone regardless of where they end up working.
The lecturers and staff members are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. They have a lot of experience working in Ireland and overseas and often use examples from their own experiences to help us to evaluate and understand the complexities in a given situation.
The tutorials are a great way to interact with the lecturers and other class members as they contain only a handful of students and are very interactive.
One thing that I particularly liked about this subject is that, in all the classes, we were encouraged to discuss issues amongst ourselves and to think critically about them rather than just listening to a lecturer talk for the whole class.
I look forward to continuing with International Development in second year.]