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Democratization through Education? The role of education in strengthening civil agency and voice in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Case study: Uganda)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EDU-DEM (Democratization through Education? The role of education in strengthening civil agency and voice in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Case study: Uganda))

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-08-31

The project advanced our understanding of the role of education in fostering democratization processes in sub-Saharan Africa (case study: Uganda) from the bottom up. Education has been long treated as an area of development programming that is separate from strengthening civil society formation and democratization processes. We still face several knowledge gaps in existing research on how education increases the agency of the wider civil sphere. This void is striking and it is here where the project made an innovative contribution to existing debates. In doing so, the project aimed at:

• exploring the correlations between educational attainment and civil society characteristics and agency;
• assessing how formal and non-formal education systems and programmes increase the attention to and comprehension of local politics;
• identifying innovative, multi-scalar and context-specific approaches to nurture democratization processes through education.

Overall, the project brought together the disciplines of education and international development while drawing from and contributing to research on democratization, civil society and agency.
To meet the overall goal of the project, an initial analysis was conducted at the beginning of the fellowship. This included a review of the most recent statistical (quantitative) data from UBOS (Ugandan Bureau of Statistics), WB (World Bank), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and Afrobarometer on: educational attainment, financing for education, the quality of formal and non-formal education structures and programmes as well as infrastructures for education in Uganda. Several data abstracts were collected, which served as a basis for later analysis, design of data collection tools for upcoming field research in Uganda and later also academic papers (published, under review or still in preparation). A significant amount of time was dedicated to design a survey for quantitative data collection in Uganda. The researcher took part in trainings to hone her skills in SPSS and Atlas.ti.

Subsequently, extensive field research was undertaken in Uganda, for the period of almost 4 months from February till May 2017. A survey (n=497) was conducted with youth from secondary schools and university students from Kampala, Gulu, Moroto and Mbarara. In addition 37 qualitative semi-structured interviews were held with local CSOs, government officials, education personnel, academics and youth (among others) across all regions. During field research the researcher also closely collaborated with Gulu and Makerere University. In both institutions, she trained and worked with Ugandan students who helped her with data collection as paid research assistants. Fieldwork resulted into two public events (one roundtable event at Gulu University in Uganda in April 2017, and one film screening event at the University of Amsterdam in October 2017).

The researcher was hosted at the Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development, Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam. Dr. Mieke Lopes Cardozo, the scientific coordinator, and the Department’s staff were extremely cooperative and supportive. The researcher gave several guest lectures, attended monthly research group meetings and seminars and engaged with faculty members, PhD and Master students.

Main results:
1) Six articles in peer-reviewed journals (four published/in press and two under review):
2) Given the considerable amount of material collected over the duration of the project, future research articles will be based on data collected during the fellowship. Two additional articles and one book manuscript are currently in preparation in line with the project's main objectives.
3) Participation in two international conferences (NAD2016 – The Nordic Africa Days, and EADI – NORDIC Conference 2017); and in one research symposium (UNICEF Innocenti and Georg Eckert Institute, Florence 2017);
4) Invited key note lecture on the role of education in democratization processes (Debating Development. What future for democracy? University of Antwerp)
5) Organization of one Round table event at Gulu University in Uganda (Democratization through Education?) in April 2017
6) Organization of one film screening event (N.G.O. Nothing Going On), at the University of Amsterdam in October 2017
7) Enlarged network of contacts within the academia and with policy-makers and representatives of interest groups in the Netherlands, Uganda and UK.
8) The grant helped to further advance the career of the researcher who found a permanent post as a lecturer (assistant professor) in education and international development, during the fellowship.
The project generated new insights that inform transformative and self-emancipatory developmental models in the field of education and international development. In this process, the project drew on local perspectives, narratives, and accounts of everyday realities from a wide range of Ugandan actors. Ultimately, current and future publications from this project offer alternative routes towards democratization through education in and not for sub-Saharan African states. To ensure a more nuanced approach, quantitative findings are complemented with qualitative data on how educational structures and its empowering elements are perceived by Ugandans themselves. Besides, the project expanded existing and ongoing research on development and democratization in sub-Saharan African states in highlighting the importance but also limitations of education therein. In a wider sense, it addressed real world problems and is of great relevance to debates on the effectiveness of aid. aid dependency but also democratization.
Data collection in Karamoja Uganda 2017 (quantiative survey)