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Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda

A project seeking to challenge understandings of youth, education and unemployment in rural Uganda.

In rural Uganda, there is a generation of young women and men who are the first in their family to go to school. Most do not have jobs. Many also participate in local institutions: churches, courts, committees. What changes are poorer, educated, often unemployed, youth bringing to these institutions? In what ways does their participation reconfigure gender relations? What concepts and categories do youth use to understand what they are doing? Available research on education focuses on learning outcomes and economic impact, or on the spread of modern attitudes among male urban youth. Much less is known about the changes youth are bringing to rural communities. This research project is designed with and by young people, and in partnership with a Ugandan community organisation. Through an interdisciplinary approach that brings the voices of young people centre stage, the project team is looking to examine participation in local institutions to challenge understandings of youth, education and unemployment.

Research team: Dr Ben Jones, University of East Anglia; Dr Laury Ocen, Lira University, Uganda

Project part of

Youth Futures

This programme aims to examine the contributions of young people to the UN’s 2030 Agenda, bringing a youth lens to the global sustainable development challenges.


We foster international collaboration in the humanities and social sciences, and promote the sharing of international perspectives on global challenges.