Adult education for community development : the case of Ugandan non-governmental organization.
Twine, Bananuka Hannington.
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A number of studies have explored the relationship between adult education and community development. These often do not provide in-depth accounts of how such relationships emerge and develop. The case study of Emesco Development Foundation (EDF) was conducted to specifically interrogate this relationship from the contextual setting of a single NGO in Uganda. The interest was on how adult education emerged, is understood and practiced by novice adult educators in community development work. EDF is a rural-based, indigenous NGO located in Kibaale district, mid-western Uganda. The study, a qualitative investigation, was framed by the educational theories of Nyerere (1973) and Freire (1972) and located within the critical theory paradigm. The two theories, which provide radical perspectives of adult education, resonate well with the participatory approaches to community development that have taken centre stage in the NGO world and are reminiscent of practices in EDF. Youngman’s (2000) framework of political economy of adult education and development was also adopted, later during the study, to explain the understandings and practices of adult education in EDF within the socioeconomic, political and global context. As is the norm with case study design, a range of methods were used to generate data and these included interviews, focus group discussions, document review, observations and photovoice. Findings indicate that EDF’s philosophy, policies and practices on adult education have been characterised by change, power dynamics, ideological contradictions and compromises. EDF’s initial focus of social enterprise as a driver of community development has over time been replaced by a focus on ‘giving knowledge and skills’ or providing adult education. Consequently, most actors have had to re-negotiate identities of adult educator in addition to their professional identities. In a bid to harmonise the multiple forces and interests of various stakeholders, EDF has assumed the position of a ‘power broker’ as a survival strategy. The study noted that adult education as field of practice and discipline is broad, complex and dynamic. It therefore recommended that adult education unlike most professions should promote an inclusive culture in order to accommodate other professions and novice actors. The study further highlights a need for EDF to strengthen its income generation capacity to sustainably finance its projects and thus avoid having to compromise their valued ideology.