"jua Kali" Youths and How they Negotiate Work in the Informal Economic Sector in Kenya and Uganda

Open Access
Agelu, Jerome
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 14, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Ladislaus M Semali, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Ladislaus M Semali, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Davin Jules Carr Chellman, Committee Member
  • Jamie Myers, Committee Member
  • Kidane Mengisteab, Special Member
  • Youths
  • Jua Kali
  • Informal learning
  • Negotiating work
  • Informal economic sector
This is a comparative study, conducted in the capital cities, Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala, Uganda, and focusing on youths’ informal learning, transiting to adulthood, and seeking employment. The research explores Jua Kali youths with informal skills accessing employment opportunities in the informal economic sector. In the conceptual framework, youths exit school early before acquiring skills, and consequently become involved in informal work or in activities that are not official or regulated by government. While engaging in these activities, youth attain life skills. The adopted thematic analysis serves as the analytic and interpretive lens for informants’ experiences and for focusing on events influencing the search for work, the impact of negotiating work in Jua Kali, and youths’ attitudes toward second-chance education. The study notes: First, results produced are closely similar for the context countries (e.g., informants responses reveal existing disenchantment in formal educational practices as cause for a lack of skills for those exiting school early. Second, fundamental factors, organizational intricacies in Jua Kali, lack of guiding rules, inadequate experience prior to employment, roles of social networks, formal educational attainments; and personal qualities influence access to employment by youths. Third, accessing employment in Jua Kali by the youthful population reveals desired impact on their wellbeing: Youths feel fulfilled, happy and economically empowered. Contrarily, undesirable economic consequences persist; disillusionment due to income instability, and displacement from work or aggravated poverty, rendering youths vulnerable to socio-economic hardships. In response to the challenges of Jua Kali youths, time is propitious for second-chance education that is; workplace, and occupational based toward improvement of current youths’ skills. Finally, this study contributes to the ongoing research in adult education, particularly in the nuanced concept of second-chance education as a compensatory educational strategy for those who do not complete the formal educational cycle.