After two weeks of a participatory approach to learning, African Rural University (ARU) in Partnership with Professors without Borders have successfully completed the Empowering communities through Education and Innovation Programme.
This programme attracted over 50 participants ranging from ARU Students, Staff and URDT Community where they were introduced to different courses in line with the visionary approach like Participatory Action Research, Nutrition, IT in Education and Storytelling for Community Engagement among others. The PROWIBO team was led by Prof. Akbaar Saeed whereas ARU was led by Dr. Jerome Bagenda Ssengonzi .
Speaking at the award ceremony on 18th August 2023 at the Centre for Reflection, the PROWIBO Programme team lead-Dr. Akbar Saeed -a professor in the Business Department at Wilfrid Laurier University in a special way lauded ARU’s distinctive educational model, which empowers both Epic-center managers and communities to actively work towards rural transformation . He equally thanked the ARU Vice Chancellor, Students and staff for enabling the workshop to be a success. Looking forward, he announced plans for collaborative research projects focused on Community-Based Participatory Research, as well as the publication of ARU’s work in scholarly journals to amplify its impact.
In his remarks, The Vice Chancellor of ARU- Dr. Mwalimu Musheshe Ashoka Fellow expressed deep gratitude for the partnership with Professors Without Borders, emphasizing the shared borderless vision of both organizations as catalysts and change agents for positive transformation.
On the status of Community Based Participatory Action Research which was facilitated by Professors Without Borders in the Workshop, The Vice Chancellor explained that ARU’s educational approach is rooted in PAR, fostering a reorientation of mindsets and generating momentum around visionary possibilities rather than conventional problem-solving. He stressed that ARU’s students – from the word go are not just recipients of education but also empowered change agents to engage in real-life community projects.
He further stressed the significance of cross-cultural relationship and traditional wisdom specialists in the context of Participatory Action Research acknowledging it’s essential role in promoting community engagement.
In his remarks, The Faculty Dean at ARU- Dr. Ssengonzi Bagenda appreciated Professors without borders for the eye opening insight on the uniqueness of participatory action research and why it should be prioritized.
Moving forward, Dr. Ssengonzi noted that as a result of the Training Program, ARU will develop a model for community participatory action Research
A notable highlight of the program was the presentation of traditional and organic foods from various Ugandan cultures by ARU students.
KEY TAKE HOMES FROM THE WORKSHOP
In this engagement, Students, Staff and URDT Community Members were able to learn asset resource mapping, research proposal writing, publication, identification of the research topic with the community, data analysis and dissemination,
On nutrition the participants learnt how to prepare a balanced diet and digestion system
The staff will employ knowledge from the programme to teach participatory action research as research projects are one of the requirements for 3rd year students at ARU
There is an opportunity for a research grant that was presented by Dr. Akbar titled; the impact of Visionary approach on community transformation