From Learning to Empowerment: A Study of Smallholder Farmers in South West Uganda
The relationship between education and empowerment has been widely debated in development literature. In recent times, social capital and community-centric learning have been increasingly recognized as important variables in the empowerment process. This paper outlines the development of a ‘Three-dimensional Empowerment Framework’, and looks at the relationship between a community-centric learning process and empowerment in selected villages in Uganda. Based on a study of two villages, the paper evaluates the role of the Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) programme, developed and supported by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), in empowering farming communities. The purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of empowerment in the selected farming communities and to identify factors that may contribute to empowerment, including the L3F programme. Two sample villages with similar demographics were used for comparison, one L3F village and one non-L3F village, with 62 respondents from the L3F village and 78 from the non-L3F village, selected randomly. A survey, which included demographic questions as well as an empowerment scale, was administered to respondents from both groups. The responses were analysed and a regression model showing the factors that influenced empowerment was developed. The study shows that the integration of human capital (viewed purely from learning, knowledge acquisition, reflective practices, skills and competencies), social capital and financial capital, has a positive impact on development outcomes such as empowerment.