Praxis is a development support organisation aiming to democratise development processes to make them more inclusive, relevant and responsive vis a vis marginalised communities. Through research, capacity-building, and documentation and dissemination of pro-poor research initiatives, Praxis moves towards its ultimate goal of eradication of poverty and establishment of an equitable society.
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Praxis’s research is conducted by a team of enthusiastic, efficient and well-trained experts and uses tested methods of participatory research. More than a decade and a half of detailed research mapping poverty, exclusion and marginalisation across communities has contributed to Praxis’s skills in research and documentation.
Praxis has a two-pronged approach to its commitment towards participatory development:
- Development Support Services :
Praxis enables organisations to get people’s perspective for their work and trains them to use participatory tools.
As an activist, Praxis shares its knowledge and expertise with other organisations (non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, government departments) and engages in issues that focus on equity and governance, trying to influence policies so that they keep the marginalized in the reckoning.
For Praxis, capacity building is a political process where attitudes, knowledge and skills are challenged, unpacked and activated towards change processes. It goes beyond training and focus on human resource development.
Praxis has a built in strategy of capacity building based on sound participatory action research initiatives; and the concepts, methods, skills and tools are tested and applied rigorously in the respective organisational and community setups to enable communities, organisations and institutions engage in democratising development processes and results.
To this end, Praxis conducts several workshops, the flagship event being the annual international commune on participatory development called TheWorkshop.
- The Workshop
This annual residential event brings together development workers, policy makers and proactive individuals from across the world to share information and experiences. It provides participants with opportunities to exchange ideas and innovations in the field of participatory development, gain a theoretical understanding of participatory tools and approaches as well as a chance to practically apply them in the field. Over the years TheWorkshop has attracted 1,367 participants from 47 countries.
Our ‘Immersion Programme’ is designed to facilitate development practitioners and policy makers to ‘immerse’ themselves for a few days in the day-to-day lives of vulnerable and excluded communities. Immersion is a guided experience that facilitates a development worker/government functionary to spend a few days with different communities and socio-economic backgrounds to get an idea of the life they lead.
As they live and communicate with communities, the participants enrich their knowledge and understanding of socio-developmental issues while themselves undergoing a life-altering reality check. Though each Insight follows a common structure, it can be customised to suit the needs of participants/participating agency.
- Need-based Thematic Trainings and Capacity-building Workshops
Praxis conducts need-based thematic trainings and capacity-building workshops on a diverse array of themes and issues for a large number of developmental organisations in India and abroad. Participatory methods and approaches, micro-level planning, organisational development and participatory research that help in building the capacities of communities and fellow workers in civil society are some of the major thematic areas we impart training on.
A Praxis initiative for cluster-level development workers, Sandhan was started to address the dearth of skilled human resources in the field of participatory development. To maximise its impact, Praxis carried out these training sessions in Hindi. In 2007, Praxis went one step further to conduct a session in Tamil Nadu in the local language, Tamil. The sessions aim to build the capacities of functionaries working in grass roots organisations. The resource persons are drawn from Praxis as well as other reputed organisations.
The three- to four-week workshops offer comprehensive training in areas such as awareness, knowledge, skills, communication, presentation, documentation and accounting with a special thematic focus on education, health, natural resources, project management and micro-level planning.
BREAKING THE SILENCE
Praxis has a number of publications and films produced through WeDIO – ‘We Do It Ourselves’ – our in-house video documentation unit. These are a product of some of its research projects over the past 15 years in the areas of equity and governance in the background of participatory development. These are used as reference material by development functionaries and students of participatory development and also offer valuable insight to those interested in the history and functioning of participatory democracies and people’s perspectives.
Praxis has produced a wide range of books based on its perceptive research over the last decade and a half. These include publications on participatory tools, landlessness in Bihar, poverty studies in Bolangir among others. The books offer an insight into lives of some of the most marginalised people in the country.
The mission of the WeDIO (We Do It Ourselves) Unit is to celebrate and promote participatory videos (PVs) and non-fiction film making and to establish Praxis as a centre of participatory video and documentary film making.
We at Praxis’s WeDIO unit believe that PVs and documentaries connect us with the human experience like few other art forms. They inspire our deepest passions, hopes, fears and ideals. Documentary and PVs are now recognised as significant art forms, critical tools for education, and a forum for discussion on a wide range of social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.
PV is a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own film, the idea behind it being that making a video is easy and accessible, and is a great way of bringing people together to explore issues, voice concerns or simply to be creative and tell stories. It has revolutionised how media is delivered and perceived by the public, and has challenged us to think critically about some of the most important subjects of our time.
Praxis develops and disseminates audio-visual material that is produced in-house. Praxis’s WeDIO unit houses some of the latest digital production devices for use to this effect.
The salient activities of the unit include
- Producing documentaries on various themes and issues of development
- Providing training in participatory video to communities and development workers to produce their own video footage and films
- Developing and using video in training situations
- Developing footage on themes in ‘participation’
Praxis’s WeDIO Unit exists to continue in the venerable traditions of participatory video and documentary film and to take it beyond the current limits of the genre.
Resources & Publications
Voice For Change
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