The people of Uganda, like the people world over, are key to their own development. African development professionals teach and learn with members of communities in the villages, while the villagers remain the driving force in all the work that is planned and accomplished .The benefits are:
- Africans know more about their continent as most have lived a rural life. They know the culture and the people better than expatriates and they are not as costly as employing foreign experts.
- Locally available resources, including local experts, are utilized first. This makes lasting change more likely, fosters ownership to take root, and is much less expensive.
- Because development professionals live and work with the villagers, monitoring and evaluation of progress is ongoing, flexibility exists to make any necessary adjustments quickly, and therefore, the likelihood of success is increased.
Lasting change occurs when people shift from reacting to events to being creators of their own circumstances. The students, and through them the communities, are introduced to the principles of the creative process whose key elements are: vision, corresponding current reality, and the resultant structural tension due to the gap between the two. Together with the communities students generate integrated programming using systems thinking to create self generating development with the people as both objects and subjects of change. Working with this principle is called the Visionary Approach.
Education, training and information sharing are key ingredients in the development process. ARU will partner with URDT, and through the URDT Epicentres’ to have a cyclic, or in a more fundamental way spiral action of learning and experimentation with the communities as social laboratories, collective reflection, redesign of programmes or interventions and relearning. Hence tools and platforms such as community radios, community barazas, community dialogues and stakeholder sessions shall be employed in addition to published works.
People have innate power, wisdom and authority, which they can tap, to transform the quality of their lives and that of their communities. ARU advances self-discovery based on appreciative inquiry, increasing awareness of one’s foundation of wisdom and weather beaten knowledge so that people build on that as they get new skills and knowledge. Knowing that they are not passive participants in the development process increases their self worth and confidence. It is against this backdrop that students learning must integrates traditional wisdom specialists, uses inquiry as primary and lectures as secondary as they may tap into their inherent capacities a shift from dependence to interdependence and, subsequently, self-reliance takes place. This process promotes full participation and involvement. Similarly the students do the same in communities.
People who share a common vision can transcend traditional barriers and prejudices caused by tribal, religious, political and gender differences and work together to achieve that which is truly important to them all. Sharing a common vision helps people rise above simplicity and pettiness and harness collective energy for positive change. The common vision for the type of graduate ARU will produce shall be the galvanizing factor for all the human resource in the University. The ARU Graduates are subject matter specialists, energizers and facilitators who work in partnership with marginalized communities to make change happen.