african rural university

ARU was launched in 2006. However, ARU was conceived as part of the URDT strategy for rural transformation in 1987.

What did URDT aspire for?

 1) ARU as an Institution of Higher Learning to deal with strategic developmental issues that are embedded in the rual communities;

2) the villages to act as social laboratories in which participation was a cardinal principle;
3) develop a cyclic relationship between the URDT extension programme (community based activities using the holistic and women empowerment appraoch) and the University;
4) to draw participants from the Bunyoro region.

The latter proved difficult due to low level of education in the area. Hence the birth of ARU was preceded by a number of strategic interventions like URDT's extension services in an integrated and holistic programme. This helped to prepare the staff for a greater role in ARU through the Education for Rural Transformation Programme and documenting the work of URDT in Kibaale and Kamwenge districts.

What makes ARU unique from other universities?

  • The first all-womenís university in the East African region;
  • Students are talented rural women who have experienced ineffective interventions for sustainable economic and social change.
  • Students are desirous to work in a rural setting and practice value driven, visionary leadership;
  • Founded on a strong foundation of endogenous knowledge and experience of 25 years in rural development by an indigenous NGO, URDT, that is supported on a long term basis by like-minded partners like MIT, Peter Senge and Robert Fritz;
  • Students learn techniques to create and empower communities in a holistic way;
  • Kibaaleís rural communities are committed to act as ARUís social laboratories for collective learning;
  • ARU offers 60% theory and 40% practical experience at campus and in the communities;
  • Gradutes get the opportunity to work with URDT for at least 3 years to establish Community Driven Development Centres at sub-county level in a public private partnership with the Kibaale District officials;
  • Internship of 1 year introduces the student to a real community life experience: they work with local leaders and self-help groups that prepares her for leadership in community driven development programmes offered by URDT;
  • The courses are facilitated by academically qualified staff and traditional knowledge specialists from the communities.

What Graduates does ARU deliver?

ARU offers different course. For details, please follow this link:

How is ARU governanced?

ARU follows the leadership and management requirements set by the National Council of Higher Education. The Vice Chancellor is responsible for the day to day running of ARU. The University Council appointed by the founding body (URDT) oversees implementation of the strategic and annual plans and budgets. Annual retreats are held with founders, council members and staff for mutual learning and growing the university to desired level.

What has ARU achieved since 2006?

  • ARU has the facilities, including computer lab, recruited professors and other highly qualified staff
  • ARU's curriculum was succesfully tested by researcher-students
  • Early 2011 ARU received a license to operate from the National Council of Higher Education
  • ARU had its first formal intake of students in September 2011
  • Its first students graduated in 2015
  • ARU developed and offers a Bsc in Technologies for Rural Development and a Certificate Course in Rural Entrepreneurship and Business Management
  • Another Degree programme, Bsc in Technologies for Rural Transformation, is in the pipeline to start in 2017/18
  • Students learn a variety of skills to enhance community driven development programmes
  • Students and graduates from ARU are role models to young women, including those attending the URDT girlís school as well as girls in surrounding communities.
  • ARU graduates donít look for jobs. The founding organization (URDT) employs them as Epicentre Managers
  • As an Epicenter Manager, the ARU graduate continues to be engaged with action research, facilitation of programmes and dissemination of information.
  • ARU, through the Epicentres programme link with URDT, continues to nature the graduates research capability as they prepare for postgraduate education and measure their impact as Rural Transformation Specialists (RTS)
  • 25 ARU graduates are now leaders at URDT or at sub-county level
  • Through the URDT epicentre programme the graduates build networks and relationships for creating collaborative structures and synergy at sub-county level in 3 districts so to generate systemic change in service delivery and rural transformation processes.
  • The latter illustrates that ARUís mandate does not stop at delivering students. ARU continues to support and grow its graduates so to create a pool of truly rural transformation specialists

[1] The vision of URDT Epicentres is that every Village in Kibale, and ultimately Africa, has at least one woman leader, a specialist in Rural Transformation catalyzing rural transformation from within. Epicentreís are sub county based, working with strategic partnerships to test, demonstrate and disseminate good practices.


For more information: visit the ARU webite