Adult theological education in Uganda is characterised by knowledge transfer rather
than knowledge ownership. The urgent need to prepare church leaders has resulted
in the application of Northern literacy-based curricula and pedagogy. In the
Ugandan context, minimal attention has been given to crucial elements of adult
learning theory and practice. This is seen to frustrate the internalisation, processing
and use of knowledge in effective, innovative and appropriate ways.
An historical review of the development of the current education system in Uganda
reveals consistent problematic issues arising from the Western orientation of
curricula, particularly in terms of the choice of language of instruction and the
interface between literacy and orality. This study reveals that the simple adoption or
adaptation ofNorthern approaches to curriculum and pedagogy disregards the effects
of the local political economy and culture upon learning. It also indicates that adult
learning styles that are formatively shaped by indigenous learning and knowledge
systems are ignored or minimised. In addition, the infusion of literacy into orality
creates a dynamism which critically informs the way in which meaning is derived
from text. This analysis leads to the application of discourse theory as a bridge
between literacy-focused formal education and orality-based indigenous learning.
The study adopts a qualitative, multi-dimensional methodological approach that
blends grounded theory and critical social research. This enables theory to emerge
through the voice of the stakeholders whilst maintaining a critical theoretical
perspective. Conducted in five colleges representing three Christian denominations,
the research examines elements which disrupt or enable the ownership of knowledge
among Ugandan adult theological students with limited formal schooling experience.
Three ruptures are exposed that inhibit and restrict the ownership of knowledge.
First, the development of a meta-level knowledge of primary and secondary
discourses is frustrated through lack of opportunity to acquire the secondary
discourse and the limited use of the primary discourse by learners within the
institutional context. Second, the dynamic learning interface between literacy and
orality is restricted by preference for the dominant literacy. Third, the use of English
as the preferred language of instruction is shown to obstruct the ownership of
knowledge. Given these ruptures, it is suggested that the use of oral and literacybased hermeneutic skills, coupled with a mediated pedagogical approach, may point
the way out of an education of disjuncture and towards the ownership of knowledge.