Mauritian Dr Avinash Oojorah graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) with a PhD in education. He is part of a programme which started after the signing of a 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) and the School of Education.
The programme supports candidates through a site-based supervision cohort model using supervisors from South Africa and Mauritius. The PhD students, largely staff members of the MIE, research areas of innovation and development within teacher education on the island.
Oojorah’s research was an autoethnography that looked at design principles used to digitise the primary school curriculum at the MIE. He drew from his personal and social experiences, his journey in academia, at the MIE and around the world and how it related to the specific field of digitisation of curriculum.
‘I have been leading a team of innovative minds who have been at the forefront of ICT integration projects in Mauritius. Over the years we have striven to provide teachers and learners with digital learning resources. We also devised and implemented training and empowerment for numerous stakeholders in education and provided support to end users of technology in the classroom.
Oojorah said his study explained what influenced his choices regarding design principles, adding that it was heavily influenced by the post-colonial context. ‘Mauritius was a former colony of European powers and all socially constructed visions that colonised and displaced people. It deals with neo-colonialist schemes such as digital neo-colonialism. I think my research could be quite useful in this regard as Mauritius is celebrating 50 years of independence this year.’
At a societal level, Oojorah believes his research could help other people in the post-colonial context to resist digital neo-colonialism. ‘With some effort, one can change from a taker of technology to a maker of technology. People give meaning to technology not the other way round.
On a more practical level, my research provides answers to those who want to engage in curriculum digitisation. My study proposes models and strategies for ICT integration and design principles to digitise the curriculum.’
Oojorah thanked his family, friends and supervisors for their support.
He advised other researchers going for their PhD to be physically fit, saying it is gruelling, but that they should go for it. ‘You will make mistakes, but you will also grow with these mistakes. You need to talk and talk and talk about your research. If you find people willing to listen to you, you’re going to make it.’
Oojorah plans to continue researching and one day publish a book based on his PhD study.