Following his nomination at the Association of Learning Technology Awards this year, MRC’s Ashwin Mehta, Corporate Head of Resilience, received two awards at the conference. He received the individual achievement runner-up award (second to the University of Manchester’s Centre of Excellence in Digital Learning) as well as the community choice award.
Mehta thanked everyone who supported his work in The Gambia, all those who supported him personally over the last few years as well as everyone who voted for him. He extended a special thanks to Mafuji Dibba, and the fieldworker trainers, who worked tirelessly to mobilise fieldworkers in both online and offline aspects of his work.
Medical research in sub-Saharan Africa involves the process of gathering data through field, laboratory and clinical activities. Fieldwork is the primary activity that helps engage communities, promote health and hygiene practices and manage patient referrals. It is also the face for research organisations in the community.
Fieldworkers are typically locally employed staff who are recruited onto specific contracts and trained in community engagement. This includes technical skills such as sample and data collection as well as health and hygiene practices.
Over the last five years, the Medical Research Council (MRC) in the UK has worked with MRC Unit The Gambia to develop e-learning for fieldworkers. This involved delivering a curriculum of basic, intermediate and advanced training for locally employed staff. Ashwin Mehta from MRC UK led the e-learning programme, supported by Mafuji Dibba of MRCG who led the practical elements of the course.
Together they developed a curriculum for training fieldworkers, equipped trainers with needed skills and provided a learning management ecosystem that was supported by MRCG through local physical infrastructure. Ashwin was also involved in piloting fieldworker e-learning at MRC Uganda and at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust.