Written by Mekong Institute
In 2012, the Mekong Institute and the New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, launched the Mekong Institute – New Zealand Ambassador’s Scholarship (MINZAS) Program, to help build a critical mass of human resources in the GMS capable of meeting current and emerging regional issues.
The MINZAS program provides a four-phase, structured learning program conducted over a one-year program cycle for master’s level students from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand (CLMT) undertaking research and thesis topics related to regional development.
Through the MINZAS program, recipients receive research funding, skills-development training, exposure to regional subject-matter and expert advice through forums and training sessions. This comprehensive program assists scholarship recipients in developing their theses through improved analytical and documentation skills. The program also grants valuable exposure to MI’s extensive public, academic and private sector networks.
From 17 February to 12 March 2014, MI welcomed the third cohort of MINZAS scholarship recipients to its headquarters in Khon Kaen for a training course on research methodology; it was the first of four program sections. In total, twelve CLMT scholarship recipients attended the training course (four from Cambodia, three from Lao PDR, three from Myanmar and two from Thailand), which drew on the expertise and experience of MI program staff and regional experts from Khon Kaen and Kasetsart Universities of Thailand.
During the research methodology training course, scholarship recipients observed four modules emphasizing the development of academically sound research proposals and new research techniques to assist in fieldwork research projects.
The results of the overall evaluation for the learning program, detailed herein, reveal that participants were generally satisfied with the program content, resource personnel, recreational activities, training management and delivery. The sessions of the program were rated as “useful” by participants, who indicated that the knowledge and skills acquired therein could (and would) be applied to their fieldwork research projects.
During the four-week intensive learning course, participants developed new friendships and established region-wide networks. Fostering such connections promotes regional cooperation and stands as a consistent, indirect benefit of all training courses and programs. Though the participants were highly satisfied with the learning program, several comments were provided which will help to improve the program for the next MINZAS cohort.
These comments expressed a need to spend more time on practicing the topics/lessons, incorporating a writing exercise for research and qualitative methodology, designing conceptual framework, and exploring operational and measure variables. There was also a desire to include more learning opportunities related to SPSS or STATA, EView and Nvivo