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A Challenge to teaching SALT

Kausar S Khan

Draft 1, 25th March 2023

 

The essence of SALT is crystal clear. It is a strength focused approach, built on stimulation and appreciation of communities engaged with SALT. Listening is another key element of SALT, as it enables the SALT Facilitator to stay engaged with the community being engaged. What is learnt and what is transferred assists the SALT Facilitator to see the spread of SALT.

 

Teaching/promoting SALT is akin to throwing a fish line to see who catches the bait, and often not all exposed to SALT bites it and runs with it. Perhaps this phenomenon, of not biting SALT, is akin to advocacy of human rights. While human rights is probably accepted by all (except some bigots) not all work on it. Is this a dilemma of sorts – to not to pursue what is agreed upon. A clue to this predicament can perhaps be found in the nature of learners.

 

Who are the potential learners of SALT? Does who they are makes a difference to their learning? This paper seeks to examine SALT from the perspective of learners. In Pakistan, over a period of about 4 years, SALT was introduced to following groups:

 

  1. A group of middle class men and women of a newly established center for community engagement. This group was working with urban and rural communities.
  2. Employees of a women's organization comfortable with the participatory approach, and seeking to use SALT with ethnically diverse rural communities in Pakistan
  3. Young women professionals of a public health organization in Karachi.
  4. Third year nursing students of a School of Nursing in Karachi.
  5. Three faculty members of a School of Nursing in Karachi.
  6. Men of rural communities in a district in Thatta.

 

While SALT remains the same, learning varies; perhaps because of the purpose of the learners. It was observed that communities being engaged for enhancing their living conditions are the best learners. The rest of learners present a varied picture. Possibly,  an answer may be found if guided by the saying : It is not what I tell you that counts, what counts is what you take away. (Mel Siberman ;  Active Training). However, how is learning to be captured remains a challenge. This paper seeks to enter journey of discovering what people learn, and relating the learning with who they are and what purpose of life they embody. Findings of this journey could also help SALT Facilitators plan their initiatives for introducing SALT to a group of learners.

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