During the wars in Afghanistan and Burma in the 1990-ies Trauma Care Foundation developed a new teaching concept – the Village University: taking the knowledge and skills of life-saving surgery from the academic teaching centers out to the battle fields. At that time the Village University was a forum where Western trauma experts introduced Western trauma care strategies. The teaching concept was further developed in the mine fields of Northern Iraq and Cambodia where local trainees took over as instructors and further developed both treatment protocols and teaching methods.
The Village University has so far retained a crucial dependency on Western expertise for supervision and research. However, this runs counter to the objective of developing sustainable and indigenous trauma systems by enabling local people to make a difference in their own community. In order to achieve this, it is therefore obvious that building a robust local research capacity is an important, but so far missing, component that must be part of the Village University.
In September 2010 TMC started, with partner TCF-Cambodia, a research school for 16 health workers from rural and remote areas, all from the network developed over many years by TCF- C and TMC. The school is located in Battambang, Cambodia, and the students attend 2-week courses 7 times per year for 3 years. The students are introduced to research methodology and medical subjects relevant to their professional background. Since few people in the Cambodian countryside speak English, language easily becomes a barrier to accessing academic knowledge, which is rarely published in Khmer. We therefore do not have any language requirements for entering the school, and all lectures and prescribed literature are translated to Khmer.
The students have been selected on the basis of their personal experience, skills and dedication, instead of formal education and English proficiency. Although many have little formal education, the students have extensive professional experience in their respective fields. The students keep their full-time jobs while taking classes, so the studies require dedication and hard work. 6 of the students are females.
The teachers are carefully selected from TMC’s network of dedicated and skilled researchers and teachers, from Norway, Cambodia, Thailand and a few other countries. The teaching is groundbreaking; this being the first time a scientific curriculum is presented in written Khmer.
The courses are conducted by TMC and research partners, the teachers being academics of high international standing. The courses focus on applied methods using participants’ experience and data for case studies. The course participants are credited according to international standards (ECTS rates).
Village University Research Courses
- The theory of science. Research ethics.
- Study design. Research protocols.
- Controlled clinical trials.
- Basic biostatistics.
- Trauma Registry analysis.
- Quantitative studies: Scientific writing.
- Qualitative methods: Data gathering.
- Qualitative methods: Analysis. Scientific writing