‘Mapping the Information Landscapes of St Helena’ Research Project Update

Dr Drew Whitworth a researcher from the Manchester Institute of Education, a part of the University of Manchester in the UK, will again be visiting St Helena from Saturday 27 April to Saturday 18 May 2024. This is to continue gathering data for the research project ‘Mapping the Information Landscapes of St Helena’, which Dr Whitworth is undertaking in partnership with Gareth Drabble.

The research will assist St Helena in assessing changes resulting from, and understanding the impact of, the introduction of high-speed internet in St Helena. The research will primarily be focusing on the social objectives of the European Development Fund (11th Round) project to deliver fibre optic connectivity to St Helena through the Equiano cable. These are:

  • Improved connectivity of households and businesses which will have a substantial positive impact on all socio-economic conditions on the Island;
  • Reduction in overseas referrals for health diagnostics and treatment which will enable people to remain close to their families while receiving medical interventions. Increased Internet bandwidth which will enable access to modern medical procedures, not currently available on the Island
  • To enable people with disabilities or a special educational need to reach their true potential and to gain further independence.

Funding for the project was granted in March 2021 by the St Helena Research Institute (SHRI). This was after Gareth and Drew won first prize in the Bridging the Digital Divide Research’ competition, sponsored by SHG’s Fibre Optic Cable and Satellite Ground Station Board.

Drew previously visited the island in November 2021 and January 2023, ahead of the island accessing the Equiano cable. This stage of the research project was concerned with finding out how residents used online resources for education, business, or health, what they thought were the main barriers faced in accessing and making the best use of these resources, and what their hopes and concerns were for the future high-speed environment. 

At this midway stage of the project, Drew’s upcoming visit will again attempt to ascertain if any of these variables have changed or have remained the same.

Drew commented:

“When we began this project in 2021, with the help of grant funding from the St Helena Research Institute, it was expected that by this point the island would have secured full access to high-speed broadband through the cable. Obviously, that has not fully happened yet. Nevertheless my third trip will give me the chance to follow-up with some past interviewees, and repeat the mapping sessions to find out what I can about developments since internet packages were upgraded in October last year. I’m also hoping to work with the SHRI on developing some new teaching and learning resources, aimed both at learners on-island and off. We hope this can be used to give islanders some experience in multimedia development.”

As well as interviews, Drew and Gareth will be conducting concept mapping sessions with school children, teachers, local business owners and local health and social care workers. Other groups and organisations are also being pursued to take part in these sessions.

For further information about this project, or to get involved, please contact Gareth Drabble by mobile phone on 62388 or by email through gardrab@live.co.uk, or Drew Whitworth by email through drew.whitworth@manchester.ac.uk.

Note to Editor

A concept map is a diagram that shows the relationships between different ideas and how they are connected. The concept mapping tool used for this research project is called a ‘Ketso’ kit. This comprises of a central workspace (a felt mat), split into four different quadrants.

Using the imagery of a tree, a standard Ketso workshop has a main focus written on the tree ‘trunk’ using washable marker pens and, using Velcro fasteners, stuck in the middle of the workspace. Various felt ‘branches’ can be attached to this trunk to represent different themes associated with the main focus. These branches are then populated with ‘leaves’ which are also written on using the washable markers. The leaves come in four different colours which are green, yellow, brown and grey and can be coded as per the needs of the research study.


Dr Drew Whitworth presenting at Rosie’s Taste 4 Life during his last visit in January 2023 (Photo credit: St Helena Chevening Alumni)

Ketso Session in progress showing central trunk, branches and leaves (Photo credit: Gareth Drabble)

#StHelena #EquianoCable #MappingInformationLandscapes



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