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Towards a gender-sensitive framework for distance education in planning for development : a case study of an executive MBA/MPA program Burman, Koyali

Abstract

Program planning is a vital activity in any organization. Over the years, different models and frameworks of program planning have been studied in adult and distance education. However, little research has been done in this field from a gender perspective. This then was the challenge which this study sought to address. To investigate this problem, this case study employed qualitative research methods including interviews, observations and document analysis. This research study sought to understand how gender-sensitivity could become a part of adult education program planning in a distance education organization. Therefore the study focused on the planning process of the Master of Business Administration/Master of Public Administration (MBA/MPA) program which is offered at Indira Gandhi National Open University, India in partnership with the Global Learning for Development (a pseudonym for an international educational institution promoting distance education for development). The study was informed by both previous and current staff members from the Global Learning for Development organization. The findings of the study revealed that Global Learning for Development organization had begun implementing gender-sensitive policy in program planning through its internal processes of shared responsibility and decision-making. In particular, it has begun to create strategies and practices for actively engaging men in gender-equality discourses within the organization's policy and program planning interventions. However, the research established that in the MBA/MPA program, little attention was being paid to women learners' differing needs and interests. Following the results of the study, the researcher proposed a general gender-sensitive program planning framework for the distance education planning process inspired by the Harvard Analytical and the Moser Frameworks of gender analysis. In each eight steps of the proposed framework, a gender perspective is identified, and the analysis applied to data on the Global Learning for Development's program planning process. The proposed framework should be viewed as a flexible tool. The study not only contributes a gender perspective to program planning theory but it also provides a framework designed to be applied in actual practice. In addition to the proposed framework, the study recommends further research focused on improving the current practice in program planning are offered.

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