Our team in Uganda has been had at work adapting their classes to the students in Uganda. ARU is “full of intelligent people” and we have to prove our relevance to the students each day to make it worth their while to come to our classes.
Philippa started her course on Civil Society by familiarizing herself with her new pupils with an academic version of musical chairs and progress maps for each student. Her cohort did not rate themselves as very confident with the material but “in brainstorming later in the class they have a whole load of ideas and knowledge relevant to the course”. Philippa highlighted the need for a clear structure in this class to give the students confidence and encourage them to participate. Mission accomplished, lively debates have been taking place in the classrooms every day!
Ena taught a class on law and justice where students discussed the International Criminal Court and their impression that it was more directed at Africans “because they have more interest in law than Europeans”. There was an acute sense of injustice felt in the personal stories that the students shared. The topic attracted much interest from the students who displayed a keen awareness in these issues.
Another class on conflict reflected the enormous differences in experience between our professors and the students. Students spoke about being displaced by revels and losing family members to war. They shared their distress at being unable to bury their loved ones and expressed their hopes for a peaceful future.
Our lecturers are in Uganda for the first time and are keen to learn from their students. We engaged in lively discussions on “What Africa did right” and “What Africa did wrong”. Students displayed their analytical and problem-solving skills as they shared ideas on how to improve problems their country was facing. The day ended with a strong sense of optimism as we learned to appreciate Uganda from the point of view of its daughters.
There is a lot of focus on student debates and discussions so we keep classes deliberately small. We are able to give individual feedback and build student confidence in this way.
ARU‘s campus is a beautiful place to work and represent the community’s hard work and pride in their environment. It’s a pleasure to walk to class every morning.