This handbook is the outcome of a long process of struggle to understand – and help others to understand – the changes taking place in the domain of our public life. This struggle began in 1990, when our statesmen and macro-economic experts began to prepare the ground for acceptance of the “grand prescription” of the World Bank and the IMF for economic renewal. Our effort was to understand the implications of this prescription from the standpoint of ordinary people.
As popular educators, we were in the category of “generalists”. We continued our struggle to evolve a ‘pedagogy’ that could help people at the “baseline” comprehend the dynamics and nuances of macro-economics.
During every workshop we organised or participated in, between 1993 and 1996, we found participants expressing their desire to understand changes taking place at the macro level. We struggled to respond to this over-riding concern with all the means and materials available to us. We experimented with several ways of explaining these phenomena, with varying degrees of success.
Initially we saw this process as a programme of “economic literacy”, but as we went along to try it out at the field level in collaboration with the participating organisations, our perceptions began to change. During the course of our initial interactions at the level of community groups, we realised that what was unfolding was a process of helping people to articulate their own economics, rather than trying to understand macro economics through simplified reading materials or through other means of communication.
This process was also helping us to learn about ‘people’s economics’ from their own standpoint. We could foresee that once people became able to articulate their own economics, they would be better equipped to see linkages with many other macro- factors and phenomena. Accordingly, we changed the name of the process from ‘economic literacy’ to “APPEAL” (Action Programme for People’s Economics and Allied Literacy).
The process of APPEAL as presented in this handbook is the result of joint exploration by a variety of players in different locations. The activists of the participating organisations were at the frontlines in this effort as partners with the facilitators. The facilitators in turn have drawn a lot from the experience and expertise of the advisory committee and from the queries, questions and apprehensions raised at the consultative forums.
This handbook is a collection of ideas on:
- strengthening ongoing educational/analytical processes in the communities with whom you work;
- a process which can help people to articulate their own economics;
- helping people to explore linkages between their own economics and macro-economics.
This handbook contains:
- a set of field notes;
- a set of exercises;
- a set of field experiences and
- a set of reading material.
These may help you to kick off and sustain the process of APPEAL.
The exercises in this handbook can be used selectively to match the requirements of your ongoing work with the community, or in the sequence in which they are presented here.