My field research is taking place within two communities in Savelugu District of northern Ghana. Both communities has a Complementary Basic Education (CBE) intervention implemented by a Ghanaian NGO, and funded by international aid agencies. The two communities are only two kilometres apart, and while they share many similarities, they are quite different too in terms of education access, electricity connection, size and infrastructure. Here, I detail my research protocol, the methods for which involved the recruitment of 10 children in the program (5 from each community, with a even spilt of boys and girls). Each participant was invited to take digital photographs of their literacy practices and environment for a period of two weeks. The average age of the participating children is 11 years, with the youngest being 8 and the oldest 13.
Training - Keep it simple. The participating children were given one hour training with their facilitator and parents present. It consisted of basic operational training on how to use the camera. No guidance was given as to exactly how to frame a photograph, as I want to allow them to decide. Basic instructions were given regarding how capture an image up-close or from a distance. In particular, participants were showed how to: a) turn on/off; b) take a photograph; c) view a photograph. The other functions of the camera were not detailed or explained, as this would be too much information and serve to complicate matters given that the language setting was English. Flash was left automatically on so as to add an extra function that the participants need not to learn.
Recruitment - Randomisation ensures community buy-in and trust and avoids selection bias. Potential participants were recruited via random selection, conducted into front of all students, their parents/guardians and community representatives. All 25 children in each community wanted to participate, therefore, it was not possible to select participants via snowball method or any method that is not random. There was a strong need to eliminate selection bias, and show the community that there is no bias from researcher or interference by the NGO. This was unanimously agreed to by all children and community members present.
24/7: Participants have the cameras with them for entirety of the two-week period. This enables them to exercise agency, and not be limited or constrained in their documentation. The only times when they are no able to take a photograph is when I’m recharging the batteries at home in Tamale, which is usually completed overnight and the batteries are returned the next day.
Back it up: Photographs are also periodically duplicated and backed-up on my laptop. This ensures I have a back-up copy of the data, but I don’t delete the images from the memory card. This ensures that the children have full access to their images as well, to review and look at as they please.