Thursday, June 19, 2014By Nourhan Abdel Hamid, Tarek Beltagy, Nora Seweify and Mahmoud Elsaeid
Cairo, Egypt - On Monday, June 16, 2014, three diverse scholars discussed Research, Advocacy and Policy during Access to Knowledge for Development’s (A2K4D) fourth Annual Workshop. The workshop was held at the American University in Cairo’s Moataz El-Alfi Hall, and consisted of five sessions.
The fifth and final session of the workshop included three speakers who each gave their own insights about the topic. The three speakers were: Heba Ghannam, a community outreach manager at Tahrir Academy, Pranesh Prakash, an Access to Knowledge Fellow at the Yale Information Society Project and Tobias Schonwetter, director of the Intellectual Property Law and Policy Unit at the University of Cape Town's law faculty.
Schonwetter mentioned during the session, “Policy makers don’t necessarily come from the same area,” and seeing how diverse the panel at this session was; his point was proven right.
The three critical thinkers spoke about the importance of research and what each of them are doing or aim to do in order to reach their initiative. All the speakers adopted different techniques and had diverse approaches towards their research; however they each made compelling arguments.
Prakash mentioned how he believes that his approach is much more research oriented; not to say that advocacy is not important. However, he explained that achieving thorough research is the main aspect in his point of view.
“Our dream is to have a new Egyptian generation of critical thinkers,” Ghannam said. She then went on to discuss how she wants her project to influence every child in the country, as one can’t expect to have new innovators if the material being taught to them is outdated. Her initiative has adopted new and fun ways of teaching kids, which have enabled children to learn in diverse ways.
Another important point was one raised by Schonwetter, which was “Don’t preach to the choir.” This point was emphasized throughout the entire conference, seeing as what good would it make if one addresses people who already have an idea.
Schonwetter also mentioned how fixing instead of solving is the main aim that should be achieved. Throughout this session, there were several questions, such as; does the law have to change before research is done? How can these scholars influence the government? And how long will it take for an actual change to happen? These questions were certainly answered by the panel with emphasis on research, advocacy and policy.