Promoting Secular Philosophy

  • post Type / Conferences
  • Date / 20 June 2007

13-15 June 2007

Nyeri and Isiolo , KENYA

Seminars on World Philosophy Day 2007

After months of intensive prepartion the IAEP seminar on public education and information about World Philosophy Day took place between June 13-15 2007. The organizers and participants felt it was a pressing issue, since very few communities are aware of the celebrations that usually take place towards the end of the and yet, without the participation of the general public, development policies cannot be successful in improving neighborhoods and living conditions.
Participants brought with them experiences in specific programmes, some more on education or awareness raising, some more on campaigning and monitoring . As the written introduction to the seminar said, “It is crucial at this stage in the policies and democracy debates that the relatively small circle of well-informed, active organisations is expanded to include organisations that are knowledgeable on educational issues and practices. In the context of democracy and monitoring discussions, ‘training’ and ‘education’ are emerging with such frequency and, in some cases lack of content, that they take on the appearance of buzzwords.”
The conference was organized by IAEP (Institute for African Ecology and Philosophy) and the Project Nabuur Initiative for Standup Campaign Against Poverty.
The key aims were at the end of the seminar to have a better understanding and ideas on:

* Methods of education on philosophy
* The context in which educational programmes on Philosophy should be conveyed to the general public
* Who should be the participants in such programmes
* Who should be giving them
* Where they should be given
* The content of such educational programmes.

Some 45 people took part in the seminar. Most are active in the Project Nabuur Standup Against Poverty Campaign Network. About one third came from political unions, women workers’ groups and networks, and worker education bodies. These included participants from Muranga, Othaya, Kangema, Karatina, Nyahururu, as well as the communities bordering the Ethiopia – Kenya . There were also representatives of the Skeptics and students’ movements in the USA , several researchers and the interpreters, without whom the work would have been impossible! The vast majority of participants were women. A full participant list as well as a the programme can be found at the Project Nabuur website, http://humanism.meetup.com/1
The conference organizers were very happy to bring together such a wide range of organisations and individuals with a wealth of experience in the field of campaigning on corporate responsibility for volunteer participation on World Philosophy Day 2007 business, and were disappointed, though, that no organisations from Western Kenya or Somalia were present, despite efforts.

The aims and agenda of the seminar, and suggestions for participants and outputs, had been drawn up by an international steering committee who had put in a lot of effort over a number of months by means of email and fax. The organisers were especially grateful to three – Salim Ongwae, Samson Mochoge and Fauzia Makena – who gave a lot of advice and ideas and yet were not able to attend.
A separate resource guide listing materials that participants brought along or that were suggested while preparing the seminar can also be found at the end of the report (posted in our website from where many of the materials mentioned in the report can be downloaded).

Participants noted that funding and resources remains a problem. Most workers can afford to contribute very little. International funding for worker education programmes is insecure. Aid agencies usually refuse, saying it is the business of the trade unions. We need to argue our case.Many participants felt strongly that public education programmes on philosophy day must not be controlled by academic institutions. One suggested that academic institutions financial contributions might only be acceptable through third parties. Another stressed the importance of not letting ourselves be pressured by academic institutions at the community level, but taking our own time and following our own agenda.

The participants concluded that this seminar was an important opportunity to build on existing partnerships and establish new ones. The participants gained a much deeper understanding of the work of each other’s community based organisations, including between Religious Institution and the Government.
There was a suggestion for a follow-up seminar, to come up with more concrete proposals about World Philosophy Day Celebrations in Kenya.

IAEP announced a linked seminar on philosophy and law in August 2007, to which they are inviting lawyers with experience in international law to comment on the nature of our proposed education strategy on World Philosophy.
This report was written by Dr.h.h. Boaz Adhengo, who is the Founder and Chair of IAEP( Institute for African Ecology and Philosophy) and editor on Secular Philosophy in the Global Institute, with special thanks also to the International Association of Political Science Students (IAPSS) and the International Federation of International Student Organisations (IFISO)

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