“My Belief in PanAfricanism got me to Kenya and a Scholarship for my PhD” Iddrisu Barihim is a doctoral finalist at Kenyatta University with a PhD in Social Studies education. His research focus is on the preparedness of secondary schools in their application of online learning in teaching and learning of social studies in the northern region of Ghana. “I decided to come to Kenya instead of pursuing my education in Ghana because I’m a Pan Africanist who believes we need to network.” He says and adds, “ I believe that we can do it with a strong collaboration among ourselves, and I needed to learn from a different perspective ,culture and context in a new environment and I don’t regret it.” “I actually learned a lot!” “ My capacity has been built so much in Kenya.” TCC Africa: Were you self-sponsored or financially supported? It was partially sponsored. This is because I am on study leave with pay. My employers gave me permission to pursue my three year programme at Kenyatta University, but I was still withdrawing my salary as I study, and also my first year school fees was paid. As for my second year school fees, I applied to the higher education loans board , If I’m lucky when it comes, I will use it to pay for my third year school fees. The sponsorship was on condition that when I finish I will go back and stay in the institution for three years. It was a bonded scholarship. TCC Africa: Where do you work ? I am based in Ghana and I work at BagaBaga College of Education, Tamale. It’s a teachers training college producing diploma and bachelors of education degree teachers, Tamale in the northern region of Ghana. TCC Africa: You came for the TCC training, could you please share with us your experience? The TCC training was in collaboration with Kenyatta University who organized an international research conference in Kenya in 2019 October. As an international research student I was in Kenya by then so I was privileged to be part of that particular training. Your institution was part of the institutions to train the participants. You made a presentation, building our capacities on how to write research work; that is how to communicate research work clearly. From what I learned ,after conducting research you do not have to leave your findings in the library, you have to disseminate your information using various alternative communication strategies for example, publication of your work was part of your presentation. You also gave us the opportunity to learn how to present our work in research conferences, how to search for donors to support and provide funds for our research work. It was a comprehensive training that you were part of and we learned quite a bit from you. TCC Africa: How was the training beneficial to you in guiding you in writing your academic papers and your research discovery process? The training I received from your institution helped me to be able to: Identify credible journals, open access journals to disseminate or to share the findings of my research work. When I did the work, last year’s preliminaries findings came out, so I needed to share that with the international community and not only in my country Ghana, so I was able to identify some two high impact open access journals where I sent my scholarly work and then I got them published. The second thing I learned from you was how to also share your research findings in international conferences. So when I came back to Ghana I was able to share the qualitative work, the data I got from the interviews. I was able to share that at an international conference organized by University of Development Studies. The name of the conference was ‘Harmattan School 2019.’ I was one of the participants who shared research works coming from a Mastered area and it was so lovely, so beneficial. The only thing I am still learning is how to win grants. TCC Africa: Now that you are back in Ghana from what you’ve learned, how are you going to pass on what you’ve learned from us in your career? First of all, I will mentor students. I’ll be monitoring student’s project work. As part of that particular training usually we allocate students who are in their final year to also conduct research. So as a tutor or lecturer in that college, every year they will give me a number of students for me to supervise their work and as part of the supervision I will be mentoring them and then share my knowledge and experiences learned from your training. Secondly as a member of staff in my institution we have common platforms, even at the teacher union, we also have platforms so I’ll be sharing how to identify credible open access journals so that colleagues who are conducting research will be able to link up and then at the appropriate time. I will also be training them on how to disseminate research information using presentation in conferences, publications, drafting of policy briefs etc. Also, with your permission I will share the TCC Africa Community Whatsapp platform so that colleagues in Ghana who want to join your institution can join and we can be learning from each other. TCC Africa: What benefit has this training had on your career? You know now how to communicate your research, you’ve published your work, and so what is the response from the leadership at the college? Will it have an impact on you getting a promotion? Kindly share with us. At the moment the management of my institution are excited and even my supervisors at Kenyatta University are happy because some PhD students spend up to 4-5 years doing PhD but December will actually be my 3rd year and I’m almost done with my work. So they are so excited that I’ll be able to finish within the record time of exactly three years and that is one remarkable thing. Second, most of the colleagues in my institution have seen my scholarly work using Google Scholar. If you go to Google scholar, my work is there and they are so happy that I’ve been able to publish up to 6 papers and as we are speaking I have sent two papers to different journals and they are all under review. TCC Africa: Are they high impact journals? Very high impact journals, at the end of the year I will have up to 8 papers published in my name. So in Ghana here they appreciate all the work you people have done. They know that I’m competent, I attend research conferences and my research skills have been sharpened. They are only waiting for me to finish and pick the certificate and so that I join them soon and can continue to train and mentor the young ones as they come up. TCC Africa: What are your parting shots? What would you tell an early career researcher when they are trying to get to do and finish their PhD? Money aside, what does this early career researcher need? Any early career researcher will need to: Have a vision, An interest in a research area and then remain focused within that area One should be open, flexible and ready to learn. One should be willing to share knowledge with others. Sometimes when you were training us you shared a lot and through sharing we got to know that some of the misconceptions that we have can easily be clarified so that one can understand issues clearly. Early career researchers, need to have a solid understanding within the area he or she is going to study. If you go to an area that is completely new to you, then you are likely to have challenges in your PhD. So you should have a background within the area you are going to work under. For my case, I have done my first and second degree in social studies education so doing a PhD in social studies education was just something that I was familiar with. I really learned a lot and actually sharpened my research skills. This are some of the issues I think I would give to those coming into the PhD programme. Thank you so much Iddrisu, this has been really fantastic and well done. Congratulations on finishing your PhD. I’m glad we were able to help and I’m so happy that you are also mentoring researchers.