Learning for development through co-operation: the engagement of youth with co-operatives in Lesotho and Uganda

Hartley, Sally Ann (2012). Learning for development through co-operation: the engagement of youth with co-operatives in Lesotho and Uganda. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d58b


With 2011 designated the United Nations Year of the Youth and 2012 the Year of the Co-operative this research contributes to issues raised by these two significant and timely events. The renaissance of co-operatives globally and their revival in countries in Africa has promoted interest and debate around co-operatives as collective values-based businesses and their potential to promote economic and social development and address poverty (UN, 2010). There is also increasing recognition that youth in Africa present both a potential and a challenge for development (UN, 2011). Youth access to education, civic participation and the ability to secure and sustain livelihoods are core concerns. Initiatives to involve youth in co-operatives in Lesotho and Uganda bring these two areas together and are of particular interest. The focus of this thesis is whether and how co-operatives provide opportunities for youth learning and the development of their capabilities and agency to achieve valued goals. The analysis is framed through conceptualisation of co-operatives as learning spaces within which theories of situated , learning are combined with the capability approach. Using qualitative and participatory methods to investigate youth engagement in co-operatives in Lesotho and Uganda the thesis argues that co- operatives provide situated social learning spaces where youth learn for development. Learning emerges within such spaces for: business and vocational knowledge and skills, personal development, collective learning based on trust and co-operator identity, and wider outcomes such as community engagement, enhanced relationships and networks and development of the co- operative form. Learning is, however, both enabled and restricted by: gender, the level of prior formal education, the networks of which a co-operative is a part and the type and success of a co-operative.

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