Participatory Development: A Tool of Pedagogy
Participatory development has been heralded as the tool that is capable of bringing development to the most marginalised people. Theorists including Robert Chambers, Mohan Giles, Kristian Stokke, Paulo Freire and Amartya Sen have argued extensively on the importance of including people in the decisions that affect their livelihood. This tool of participation has been employed as a means of accomplishing projects that appeal to a larger group of people. Though a debatable improvement from the top-down approach, this approach to communication has relegated the use of participation to being a means. Further benefits actually emanate from the use of the participatory approach to development. One of such is in its pedagogical capacity; especially in teaching people about institutional structures and civic engagement. To harness this capacity of participatory development, participation must be viewed as an end of its own. This article is an investigation into this pedagogical capacity of participatory development. It focuses on participation in non-physical activities such as participatory budgeting and participatory policy making. This is in order to understand its effect on the capacity of citizens to understand and engage with social structures which affect their livelihood. Understanding this capacity of participatory development to increase the level of civic engagement between citizens and their society, is needed for better development planning. Thus, the conclusion highlights the potential for participation to increase citizen engagement with the structures in society. Again, it is with such understanding, that participatory projects and processes can be designed to produce benefits that transcend the lifeline of the project.
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