'I enjoyed being a student again, meeting colleagues in the coffee shop, and studying in the library '

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'I enjoyed being a student again, meeting colleagues in the coffee shop, and studying in the library '


Frank remembers studying for a Master's Degree.


Frank Gaynor


Trinity College Dublin




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Frank Gaynor

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Following my experience in Korogwe I was interested in learning a bit more about funding and managing projects in developing countries. I was looking for a part - time course, and got in contact with the Development Studies Centre in UCD. When I visited the Centre I met with the Director, Helen O'Neill, who had established the Centre. Helen quickly accepted me on to the Master's Degree course. When I saw that the time - table for part - time students was scattered across the week I opted for the full - time one - year course. I enjoyed being a student again, meeting colleagues in the coffee shop, and studying in the library. It was during this year that I sent my first email message. I found it interesting getting to know what the experts were saying and writing about developing countries. Helen gave some excellent lectures on international development issues. She had a high profile in the world of international organisations, a large ego, and a low tolerance for original thinking. We were left with a version of international development in which the World Bank and IMF were star players, and above reproach. Helen's Assistant Director was Majda ben Saad. Her main focus was on rural development. Outside the lecture room Majda spoke with great passion about events in her native Iraq. When my turn came to give a brief presentation to my colleagues, with Helen and Majda present, on the topic I had chosen for my thesis, I opted for a light hearted, entertaining approach. Helen was not amused and proceeded to cut me down to size. I held my tongue until she finally ran out of steam. A year later I felt that my forbearance was rewarded when I graduated from the course with a first class honours Master's Degree. For me this was an amazing achievement. This achievement was mainly due to the fact that Monica was in Malawi at the right time. For my thesis I had decided to explore how primary schools in Malawi had coped with the introduction of free primary education in 1994. Monica was in Malawi in April 1998 and placed questionnaires for me in a number of primary schools in Mulanje district. By the time I arrived in Malawi in July that year most of the questionnaires had been completed. This primary research data impressed the examiners. For the following six years, when I was available, I was invited back by Majda to give a short series of lectures, on education and development, to the MA students. At that time there was an on - going turf war over office space in UCD, including the corridor where the Development Studies Centre was located. One morning I was asked by Helen to sit in an office and look busy while the officer responsible for allocating offices went along the corridor. There were mini empires all over the place and a great reluctance to share resources.


Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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