Although development efforts have saved lives, they have not sufficiently built resilience of target communities; the same shocks/stresses recur with similar or even worse consequences. RAN seeks to break these negative cycles by tapping into the adaptive capacities of communities and the potential of African students, communities and scholars to ideate, develop and implement solutions that strengthen or build resilience of communities. The Agency for Self-Reliance project seeks to promote community’s initiation, management, ownership and leadership of projects geared towards addressing development challenges. It seeks to do this by working collaboratively with the community to co-create, develop and implement solutions towards the improvement of the quality of basic education in Uganda. Basic education for this buy-in was defined as education for classes of Primary 1 to Primary 7.

As part of this project’s work, part of the RAN Team including Natasha Kassami- Partner Engagements and Community Liaison Officer, Agnes Nyabigambo- Projects Manager, Anthony Ssebagereka- Research Officer, Tony Namugera- for Multimedia Support and Harriet Adong- Director Communications and Knowledge Management engaged community representatives in Mayuge District in community co-creation sessions to design innovative solutions geared at improving basic education in Mayuge. The team was supported by two Research Assistants Susan Mutesi and Ziyada Babirye who offered translation support needed for the engagement. The team was in the field engaging with community stakeholders from Monday August 3, 2020 to Friday August 7, 2020. Among the stakeholders engaged in this activity were teachers, head teachers, local council leaders, community counselors, district leaders and parents with children in Primary school from Kityerera sub County in Mayuge District.

Co-creation is a form of collaborative creativity which enables innovation through the collective sharing of ideas from a diverse group of stakeholders. The objective of the activity was three-fold:

  1. To share a report of the challenges in Basic Education that were identified through the Small Group Discussions conducted in Mayuge in March 2020.
  2. To support community members of Kityerera sub-county in the process of identifying and designing solutions to their own developmental challenges
  3. To empower community members of Kityerera sub-county in Mayuge with skills in designing creative solutions through the Human Centered Design approach and in writing a project proposal

In an earlier community need finding session in Mayuge District key challenges affecting basic education in the district were identified, these challenges were categorized into enrollment, school drop-out, performance and completion. The participants who were divided into four groups, were taken through the hands-on Human Centered Design approach to design innovative solutions towards addressing these problems. Each of the four groups addressed one of the problem statements below in their co-creation session:

  1. How might we motivate teachers to play a more active role in the success of pupils’ education?
  2. How might we encourage or promote parental involvement in their children’s education?
  3. How might we improve pupils’ registration/enrollment in school and keep them interested in school until completion?
  4. How might we improve community involvement in pupils’ education and success in school while contributing to ending child labor in Mayuge District?

Moving forward, the community members will continue working on crafting a proposal for their proposed ideas, following the guidance given by the RAN team. These proposals will be reviewed and the best (most feasible and impactful) ideas will be selected for further piloting and implementation in the communities of Mayuge district. These proposed ideas will thrive through the process with constant support from the RAN team. This was yet another rich knowledge generation and sharing process aiding harnessing of indigenous knowledge to positively impact the communities. The ultimate aim is to register improved quality of basic education in Mayuge District.

‘It is interesting how much knowledge we can together generate in close consultation with community stakeholders. Let us always endeavor to engage and re-engage with the communities in all we are doing and propose to do’ noted Dr. Roy William Mayega, RAN’s Deputy Chief of Party in-charge of all operations.