Skip to main content


It is the mission of the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and ISU‐UP to use the power of education to develop sustainable communities and responsible global citizens. We accomplish our mission by focusing on education and capacity building as the core of sustainable human development. Education is central to every CSRL program and spans all age groups.

Education Venn DiagramService Learning

Living and working together, students from Iowa State University and Makerere University serve while learning what it takes to be change agents in the developing world. With the center’s guidance, students work on development projects in agriculture, environment, irrigation, sanitation and other areas, learn meaningful life lessons, and acquire intercultural knowledge and competence. The program provides both university students and pupils from primary school opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences.  Experiential learning is the main approach of service learning, with participants "learning by doing" at the same time providing a service to the community through the schools with both in equal balance (service + learning).

School Gardens

Undergraduate students from Iowa State University and Makerere University and center staff work alongside primary school children to maintain on-site school gardens and care for poultry. While children learn specialized skills in agriculture and livestock management, the gardens and livestock supply ingredients for the school lunch program. The school gardens program helps teach and nourish pupils in five primary and two secondary schools in the Kamuli District. The gardens furnish produce for school lunches, varying in frequency from one to five days a week. Poultry programs are also offered at two of the primary schools

Workshops and training programs for adults

Agronomy, land use, post-harvest handling, animal husbandry, nutrition, sanitation, and crafts are a few of the subjects that ISU-UP field specialists bring to the people of Kamuli District. Working side-by-side with Kamuli District residents, we discover and implement sustainable solutions to meet the community’s most urgent needs.

Some of the approaches we utilize include:

  • Administer summer service-learning programs that bring together Iowa State University and Makerere students in bi-national teams who collaborate on research projects and also assist in teaching integrated science subjects and math at primary schools.
  • Administer semester-long service learning programs for ISU students
  • Administer service-learning internship programs for both ISU and Makerere University students
  • Provide opportunities for students to collaborate on solutions that change communities
  • Create and maintain school gardens and poultry as outdoor laboratories for pupils
  • Provide instruction and projects, benefiting the community and the school lunch program
  • Promote home-based garden enterprises for pupils to facilitate knowledge transfer to their homes and surrounding communities and increase nutritional food security
  • Promote use of small plots of land allocated by parents for children to raise crops to support their scholastic materials and school needs
  • Facilitate extra instruction to help pupils improve national test scores and enrollment rates
  • Build school partnerships to increase boarding facilities which also increases enrollment and retention through graduation
  • Facilitate establishment of gardens for youth entrepreneurial and ag enterprise development
  • Facilitate an Annual Youth Institute that brings pupils from different schools together with a final event at our Mpirigiti Rural Training Centre
  • Promote research, networking, and discussion groups with pupils and teachers from eight schools

Continuing goals include:

  • Improve access to quality education at all stages of the lifecycle
  • Improve learning and education of primary and secondary school pupils
  • Expand use of school gardens to motivate and empower pupils for knowledge transfer and life skills
  • Expand consumption of nutrient dense mid-day meals for primary school children
  • Enhance university student and faculty learning and participation in ISU-UP programs
  • Increase collaboration among partnership schools
  • Expand classrooms, latrine, kitchen, water, and teacher housing at schools
  • Increase access to a wide range of educational programs at the Mpirigiti Rural Training Centre
  • Increase school attendance and graduation rates
  • Increase mentoring opportunities at all stages
  • Develop best practices publications in both English and Lusoga languages

 Lockdown can’t stop the learning

EducationThe Ugandan lockdown in March 2020 impacted more than the spread of COVID-19; it also forced an abrupt change to the way education was delivered in many schools served by ISU-UP. Realizing that any disruption of educational activities and opportunities could have far-reaching consequences for rural Ugandan communities, ISU-UP field specialists collaborated with local school administrators and teachers, quickly creating plans to keep pupils engaged.

Working with 11 local leaders in Namasagali sub-county and 10 in Butansi sub-county, and guided by the Kamuli District Education office, ISU-UP staff worked with parents to encourage pupils to continue their schoolwork in small groups in their communities. As word of the program spread, pupils from neighboring schools joined in. ISU-UP staff also worked with headteachers of each school to enlist teachers who could help in evaluating the pupils’ work.

Teachers have played a big part in ensuring that their pupils’ education continues, despite all the challenges. Wanenge Grace, a teacher from Namasagali primary schools, said two of the pupils in his school had moved after the lockdown began, but as he distributed home reading materials, he was able to contact the parents, and the pupils returned and are doing their homework under his guidance.

In addition to continuing pupils’ education, this new approach has strengthened the relationship between teachers and their pupils. Mwanga David, Namasagali’s headteacher, said that before the lockdown was imposed, pupils were afraid to approach their teachers with questions. Now, with the teachers approaching the pupils in their villages, pupils feel more comfortable asking questions. The pupils say that home reading materials have helped them continue their learning, and they have started connecting with older pupils when they need help in any subject. In addition, pupils are finding it easier to balance school and their housework and home gardening activities.

Because school gardens were locked down when schools were locked down, a number of home and village demonstration gardens were started to help pupils continue to learn. These gardens have provided more opportunities for hands-on, self-directed learning for pupils, parents, and other community members.

Many parents fear that their children who take on community jobs during the lockdown will not continue their education once the schools reopen. Enabling pupils to stay focused on their education has likely increased the odds that most will return to the schools once the pandemic subsides.

To make a gift to the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, please click here to go directly to the ISU Foundation, or contact Sarah Roelfs at (515) 294-1031 or