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IMER alumnus talks about their studies

Amoni Kitoke and Eugenia Allotey are alumnus from the International Master Programme in Educational Research (IMER).

Amoni Kitooke about being an IMER alumnus

amon

 

Name:

Amoni Kitooke

Nationality:

Uganda

Student at the University of Gothenburg:

From 2019 to 2021

Looking back at being an IMER student, what is the most important lesson you learned?

Key among the many things I learned on the IMER programme was how to read and understand research articles. My work before IMER had included reading and conducting research, just not the same way being immersed in the research concentration of this programme impacted on me. I came out of IMER with the ability to read, understand and critique not just the content but also the methodology employed in conducting the research from which an article would have culminated.In addition to my initial intention of using knowledge from IMER to improve just my civil society work, my engagement in the programme ignited in me a strong desire to engage more in academic scholarship.

I am very grateful to the Swedish Institute for awarding me the Swedish Institute Scholarship for Global Professionals which afforded me the resources to study in Sweden.

What is your main occupation today?

I currently serve as the Deputy Executive Director of a local non-governmental organisation called The Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU - www.crossculturalfoundation.or.ug) which promotes an appreciation of culture as vital for human development that responds to our diverse identities. In addition to administrative duties, I implement a Heritage Education Programme which engages young people in 154 secondary school ‘Cultural Heritage Clubs’ in activities to understand, appreciate, utilise, safeguard, and promote their indigenous cultures. Under the programme, I also coordinated the designing of a ‘Bachelor of Cultural Heritage Studies’ programme which is now offered in four Ugandan universities.

How has your path to your present occupation been?

Before coming to IMER, I was already working at The Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda as a Heritage Programme Officer in charge of heritage education, cultural rights promotion, culture and gender, and historical buildings and sites safeguarding and promotion. I came to CCFU as a volunteering graduate intern dubbed ‘Young Professional’ slightly after I graduated from my bachelor’s degree at Makerere University, Uganda, in early 2015. After five months of volunteering, I was offered a full-time job as a Heritage Programme Officer, a position I served until 2019 when I joined IMER. At that time, I also served as the Projects Coordinator for the Uganda National English Language Teachers’ Association (UNELTA), and Executive Director for the International Centre for Educational and Cultural Exchange (ICECE), both of which entities answer to my professional interests in the nexus between education and culture, say, school and society.

When I was in the third semester at IMER, CCFU advertised the position of Deputy Executive Director. I applied. I was invited for the interviews, and a key question was whether I would be able to move from Sweden to Uganda. Since I had already been planning to conduct my research in Uganda, and that universities were closed so moving to Uganda would not compromise my ability to study, I accepted to move to Uganda. I started working in November 2020 while completing my IMER assignments. During the Spring 2021 semester, I consecutively worked and conducted my IMER research and thesis writing.

Are you still in touch with some of your fellow IMER students?

I am consistently in touch with my IMER colleagues, many of whom are still in Sweden. We have a WhatsApp group and a Facebook group where we ‘meet’, but I also frequently text and call individual colleagues.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I am now tending towards a career straddling the academics and civil society work. Having taught in the secondary school classroom since 2009 and worked in the civil society since 2015, I feel that it is time to engage in advanced scholarship from an academic perspective but also blend it with field-based interventions.

I have gratefully received confirmation that I will be admitted to a PhD programme in Educational Sciences with a specialization in Higher Professional Education at the University of Borås (so I am looking forward to returning to Sweden very soon!). IMER Programme Coordinator Ernst Thoutenhoofd kindly alerted my cohort to the availability of this doctoral position and, together with my thesis supervisor, Sally Windsor, agreed to be my referees when I was applyingDoctoral studies will kickstart my engagement in advanced academic scholarship. I am already making my way into research environments such as the Pedagogy, Education and Praxis (PEP) network, thanks to the mentorship and support of my thesis supervisor and IMER tutor Sally Windsor with whom I have written a book chapter.

When I graduate from the PhD programme at the University of Borås, around four years from now, I hope that I will have firmly established myself in research environments, possibly take an academic position, and continue commissioned civil society work in some way.

Do you have any advice to present students?

A key piece of advice, from my own experience, is to engage in peer support on coursework, in addition to the lessons and tutorials from lecturers. When you engage in discussions with colleagues, you understand concepts more clearly. Better still, leading such discussions compels you to prepare to explain to colleagues by reading deeply into and around the concepts; and in so doing, you understand even better.  Asking questions and airing out perspectives is a highly cherished tradition at IMER, and I found it very useful in conversations with both tutors and student colleagues.

Anything else you have a specific memory from?

As an IMER student, I am honoured to have been trusted by my classmates to serve as one of their two representatives to the IMER Programme Council. There, I learned quite a few things about how decisions are made in managing a graduate programme, but very importantly that the best interest of the student is key in designing any programmatic arrangements.

I also enjoyed the ‘Swedish for Immigrants’ (SFI) language classes which I took at Hermods, an adult school in Gothenburg, thanks to the Swedish government for this immigrant integration initiative. In the SFI classes, I became friends with people from around the world whom I would possibly never have met. With the SFI classmates, I enjoyed playing kubb, a Swedish game.

I was privileged to live in Gothenburg with my wife while studying at IMER. Together, we enjoyed life in the serenity of Sweden’s nature parks – well, Slottsskogen is really the thing! Together, we enjoyed the social life of Gothenburg including visiting with friends, eating out, and just touring the vicinities of the city – why not; after all, the transport system’s efficiency is unmatched!

Eugenia Allotey about studying in Sweden and being an IMER Alumnee

Eugenia

Name

Eugenia Allotey

Nationality

Ghana

Studied at University of Gothenburg

2017 to 2019

Looking back at being an IMER student, what is the most important lesson you learned?

The ability to conduct a scientific research for societal impact.

What is your main occupation today?

PhD student/ Assistant researcher

How has your path to your present occupation been?

It has not been easy. I encountered challenges at various stages of my education but with perseverance and determination I have been able to achieve my dream.

Are you still in touch with some of your fellow IMER students?

Yes, I do communicate with some of my colleagues from time to time and when I am in Gothenburg some of us do meet for “fika”.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Five years from now, I see myself working as a university professor.

Do you have any advice to present students?

Take the research aspect of your training seriously and expand your network. It is through one of my IMER colleagues that I came across the call for the current PhD programme I am enrolled in.

Anything else you have a specific memory from?

I find Sweden’s university application process very smooth and well organized.  However, the accommodation situation in Gothenburg makes settling quite stressful, especially for international students.