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Transforming Communities through Holistic Development.


Transforming Communities through Holistic Development.

Over the years, African Rural University (ARU) has been making remarkable strides in communities throughout Uganda, with its unique educational model and a strong emphasis on rural transformation. ARU has played a pivotal role in empowering women, driving positive change, and fostering the creation of sustainable and thriving communities.

African Rural University (ARU) is a value-based, all-women university, founded by Uganda Rural Development and Training Program (URDT). Through its unique educational model and emphasis on rural transformation, ARU provides transformational education to produce effective women change agents, an approach calling for a re-orientation of the mindset and generating energy around visions and possibilities, rather than problem-solving.

ARU’s education blends theory (60%) and practical application (40%), engaging students in real- life community projects. They live and work with communities, fostering a direct link between academic learning and rural transformation. Currently, the University offers five courses including Bachelor of Rural Development (BRD) and Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Agriculture (BSSA), each comprising three years of classroom study, followed by one year of research and internship.

The transformative education journey begins early in students’ lives as they are socialized at URDT Girls School, a key component of the comprehensive education continuum. This preparation sets the stage for them to eventually enroll at ARU and further develop their capabilities as Epicenter Managers, individuals equipped to drive positive change within their communities.

One of the cornerstones of ARU’s impact is the Epicenter Strategy, which involves employing ARU graduates to work with communities in local governments through Public-Private Partnership. At the heart of this strategy are visionary approach and systems mindset, as female leaders, known as Epicenter Managers, collaborate closely with communities and local authorities to foster rural innovation for the well-being of people and the planet. Through this approach, communities get to know that they are key to their own development.

Transformative Education

ARU has offered and is still offering transformational education to women and girls within the African Context. Right from year one throughout all years of study, the students interact with communities through community projects, social responsibility and village practicum at host families and host communities (where they do community action planning and research). The last interaction is internship where the student is resident at sub county level and learns Community Driven Development (CDD) with technocrats.

The students get a full academic year for internship working with rural communities, studying systems and structures of lower local governments and getting acquainted with URDT Epicenter Strategy under the mentorship of an ALUMI -Epicenter Manager. This way, they are able to conduct Participatory Action Research (PAR) Community Action Planning (CAP) as a democratic bottom-up processes to cause Rural Transformation. So far, 84 women have acquired knowledge and skills in this transformational education.

Promoting Entrepreneurship for Rural Development

Together with the Young Africa Works Programme and URDT, ARU facilitates vocational training in agriculture, tourism, art, automobile skills, crafts, and construction in 22 districts. This initiative has benefited over 20,000 individuals so far, including 1,084 refugees and 5,069 PWDs, empowering them to find or create employment opportunities.

Community-driven Development

During community work, ARU students and Epicenter Managers promote girl-child education, human rights programming, women empowerment and WASH, and encourage men and women to participate in community-development work. Over 700 village group, and household plans have been made and implemented so far, using the visionary approach, to change mindsets and  create what people aspire to.

Human Rights Promotion

ARU students are grounded in the Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming (HRBAP), and currently, ARU graduates are promoting social inclusion and equity by implementing HRBAP in 20 districts to involve marginalized and vulnerable groups in decision-making processes.

Community-based Radio Programming

Through Kagadi Kibaale Community Radio (KKCR), students broadcast educational programmes on topical issues (indigenous culture, entrepreneurship, health, agriculture), and foster civic engagement among a weekly audience of over two (2) million people weekly.

Promoting Indigenous Knowledge

ARU employs five (5) Traditional Wisdom Specialists (TWS), as co-researchers and trainers, to             mainstream indigenous knowledge and promote cultural, natural and historical heritage. An album of traditional medicine has been developed to benefit society by preserving cultural knowledge, promoting education and awareness, supporting sustainable healthcare practices, and empowering indigenous communities.

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