Accepted paper:

Useful Education: Ugandan Perspectives 1920-62


Carol Summers (University of Richmond)

Paper short abstract:

With writings from Uganda's most globally educated colonial-era men, such as A.Nyabongo, E. Kalibala, Joseph Kiwanuka and E.M.K. Mulira, this paper explores their challenges to conventional ideas of useful education. How, I ask, did global connections allow these men to reimagine Uganda's schools?

Paper long abstract:

From at least the early 20th century onwards, a few bright and well-connected Ugandans went to school outside Uganda, earning not simply secondary certificates or professional training in medicine, but advanced degrees. These individuals then returned to Uganda as social and political entrepreneurs and leaders. The correspondence and publications these men produced sharply critiqued conventional ideas about education in colonial Africa. These graduates denounced the Phelps-Stokes vision of adapted education. They rejected British Colonial Office ideals of culturally and communally unifying education. And they opposed missionary monopolies on schools and faith institutions. Instead, both as individuals and within diasporic networks of African, African American and Caribbean intellectuals, they criticized, sought recognition for their qualifications and skills, imagined and founded new schools, and argued that their educations, in immersing them in the Western cultures of Britain and the United States, were useful in a way that no shorter or cheaper program of learning could have been. The experiences of men such as Akiki Nyabongo, Ernest Kalibala, Joseph Kiwanuka, E.M.K. Mulira and others were varied, but examining them within the context of royalist Ugandan politics, African American and diasporic networks, Catholic ideals, and Fabian Socialism begins to illuminate just how complex and multifaceted Ugandans' expectations and hopes for their own educational systems were. This paper draws on work with a range of personal papers, archival collections and publications to examine how these leaders defined, pursued, and sought respect for their visions of "useful" education.

panel His08
School education and the shaping of colonial and independent states and societies (19th century-1970)