Transforming Education and Building Global Bridges: The LEMS Project's ImpactPublished: 14 November 2023 13:57h
The LEMS project offers a valuable insight into the far-reaching effects of the collaborative NORPART programme on individuals, institutions, and the accessibility of information and culture in a multilingual setting.
Responsible for the project: Professor Anne Marit V. Danbolt, from Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN)
Project period: 2017 - 2023
Thematic area: Educational sciences, pedagogy & didactics, Linguistics & Languages
Collaborators: The University of Zambia (UNZA)
Grant allocations: 4 370 724 NOK
In a collaborative effort spanning continents and cultures, the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN) have joined forces to create the Literacy Education in Multilingual Settings (LEMS) project. Multilingual settings are characterized by the coexistence and use of multiple languages. They often require strategies and policies to manage linguistic diversity, promote effective communication, and ensure equal access to opportunities for speakers of different languages. NORPART initiative is contributing to reshape the landscape of literacy education by harnessing the power of multilingual settings, offering opportunities for academic cooperation, internationalization, and personal growth.
About the attendees
Main team members at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN)
Anne Marit Vesteraas Danbolt (Professor, Coordinator)
Espen Stranger-Johannessen (Associate Professor)
Kristin Vold Lexander (Researcher, Associate Professor)
Sevika Stensby (International Advisor)
Camilla Tømta (Accountant, Financial Advisor – currently Research Advisor)
Main team members at University of Zambia (UNZA)
David Sani Mwanza (Associate Professor, Coordinator)
Agnes Chibamba Chileshe (Senior lecturer)
Peter Manchishi (Associate Professor)
Sitwe Benson Mkandawire (Senior lecturer)
Geoff Tambulukani (Associate Professor)
Patricia Sakala (International Link)
Vincent Bwato (Accountant)
Professor Anne Marit V. Danbolt is the coordinator of the LEMS project. With assistance from qualified personnel at both institutions, she has organised student exchanges and workshops to promote collaboration of academic and administrative staff, while also offering research opportunities for Master's and PhD students. Danbolt has exerted considerable effort in assembling a sustainable team to ensure long-term collaboration after the project period.
The partnership programme has given the students unique opportunities for international exposure. The partnership with the University of Zambia, further allows Master’s students unique opportunities for international teaching practice in an international context. The project also led to the creation of online PhD courses, and created new, flexible opportunities for joint research and advanced learning. This expansion is not just in terms of physical exchange programmes but also through the concept of 'internationalisation at home.'
Representatives from both INN and their partner institution have been able to attend PhD dissertations in both Norway and Zambia, demonstrating the close connections and immediate communication channels developed during the collaboration.
One tangible outcome of their collaboration is the, a resource offering reading materials in the official regional languages of Zambia for initial reading instruction. This achievement embodies the project's ambition to enhance educational resources and accessibility, offering a profound example of the project's ongoing impact.
A great success was the LEMS Conference in December 2022, where staff, former exchange students and teachers were invited to present their research and their experiences. The partnership is very vivid and strong and continue looking for new prospects for further collaboration, including new partners.
While Professor Anne Marit Danbolt enjoyed a great deal of support throughout the project, engaging colleagues and leadership required time, patience, and persistent effort. Danbolt has often wished she could have brought more colleagues along to their partner institution —a strategy she found effective in encouraging participation. Fortunately, she found allies in colleagues who shared her passion for South-North collaboration, many of whom had earned their PhDs in an African country. Despite limited incentives, particularly in terms of research time, these individuals willingly committed themselves to the collaborative effort.
The biggest challenge during the years of collaboration was the pandemic which interrupted physical meetings and made all exchanges come to a stand-still. The most significant setback was the death of Dr Dennis Banda, the coordinator at UNZA. Despite this tragic loss, the network proved its resilience. The institutional response and support meant a lot to Dr Banda’s family and friends as well as his colleagues at UNZA and INN. The Vice-Chancellor of INN sent condolences to UNZA reflecting the deep connections formed throughout this collaboration. A considerable part of the Norwegian team attended Dr. Banda's online funeral, further showcasing the solidarity and community formed within this international partnership.
Students' Perspectives: Real Stories of Transformation
The LEMS project's impact is most evident in the personal and professional transformations experienced by its students from both Norway and Zambia. Matilde Teoline Hermansen, a Norwegian exchange student, embarked on a journey that reshaped her teaching new methodology and deepened her understanding of Zambia's culture.
Esther Nawa, a seasoned Zambian teacher, found her career elevated to new heights after participating in the exchange program. Her experience in Norway expanded her horizons, boosted her networking skills, and left her well-prepared to embrace lifelong learning.
The students share how the LEMS project isn't just about education; it's about the journey of transformation, the breaking of barriers, and the building of bridges between nations.