Brain stretching and eye opening By Archie Roberts

With the generous financial support from St Dunstan's I started studying part-time for a Masters of Management Degree: specialising in Monitoring and Evaluation through the University of the Witwatersrand in 2019.

I embarked on this journey with excitement but also with some trepidation knowing that I was going to face challenges in getting through the degree.  I immersed myself in the world of systems thinking and complexity theory and, yes it was complicated, because my assignment had to be completed in Microsoft Excel and I  struggle to use the software.  I studied Governance and Social Policy and found out that a National Health System for South Africa like they have in the United Kingdom was first proposed in South Africa during Jan Smut’s time.  I  enjoyed my Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methodology courses with one proviso that being when it came to writing the exam for Quantitative Methods, my screen reader could not read the format they had used in the document and the paper had to be read to me by the invigilator.  My other two set courses were Monitoring and Evaluation and my elective was Impact Evaluation.  If you want to stretch your brain there is a whole manual put out by the World Bank that is available online that tells you how to conduct Impact Evaluations using different methodologies.  

In 2020 for various reasons, I could not continue with my studies but I registered again last year to develop my proposal and then defend my proposal to a panel.  I still have to conduct my research this year and write it up.  

Thinking about my journey thus far, when I studied previously my challenges to participating in education were around getting access to the information I needed to study.  When I studied previously everything was read onto tape for me so it was with delight that when I started studying this time around that all my reading was available to me electronically and that I received it at the same time as my fellow students and could access it at the same time as they did.  I could also go online and get additional reading from the library.  The major challenge studying this time round though is that I have had to get more tech-savvy which has been like doing an additional degree within a degree.