Since its establishment in 2000, the Africa Centre has been engaged in addressing the need for an effective ‘African Perspectives’ in Development Education (DE) in Ireland. The Africa Centre has undertaken significant reflection on what is considered ‘African Perspectives in Development Education’. This is more than having multiple African perspectives expressing the same messages, rather a process that challenges some of the perspectives still prevailing in Irish society about Africa and Africans. Developing this perspective involves a process of exploring African cultures, seeking to identify methodologies of communication, learning, reflection and action used in different parts of Africa and adapting these as part of the methodologies of DE in Ireland today. This has previously led the Africa Centre to develop methodologies in public engagement such as "Africa Also Smiles" campaign and raising awareness, lectures series, and development education capacity building courses for the African communities.
The Africa Centre believes that an African perspective in development education is a diverse, complex and vital one. As such the work of the development education unit in the Africa Centre fits the objectives of the Irish Aid Strategy Plan (2007 - 2011:7&17, extension to 2015) for Development Education, specifically in its aim to further promote Southern voices in DE. The Africa Centre is a member of Irish Development Education Association (IDEA) and Dochas in order to contribute our perspectives. To give presence to our voice we attend meetings and conferences relating to development issues.
The core aims of the initiative delivered by the Development Education team are:
• Promoting and facilitating education led by Africans who have experience of living in Africa and can bring this authentic voice to the educational experience as a southern perspective to others
• Sharing knowledge which is based on experience of some of the complex topics in relation to African development (such as African history, politics, culture) to which the Africa Centre can bring a lived experience and understanding;
• A critical perspective on the use of images of Africa, on which the Africa Centre has already carried out work and which will be further developed through the coming three years.
• Use of diverse multiple African education methods, such as story-telling and use of art, which the Africa Centre will train educators to use effectively in relation to development and promote among development educators in Ireland