India: Handbook of Urban Statistics 2022


SHLC India team at the National Institute of Urban Affairs has published a Handbook of Urban Statistics 2022. It includes summary statistics for each State and Union Territory (UT) on the following topics:

  • Urban Demography
  • Access to Housing
  • Access to Basic Amenities
  • Public Expenditure on Urban Development
  • Employment

Team Leader: 
Debolina Kundu
Hitesh Vaidya
Tania Debnath
Biswajit Kar
Devarupa Gupta
Sayak Dutta
Pragya Sharma

SHLC Event Group Picture

Urban Neighbourhood Sustainability and Impacts from Covid-19 Workshop 15th-16th of February 2023

SHLC Event Group Picture

The University of Glasgow hosted a two-day long workshop as part of the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC).

SHLC was set up in 2017 as a GCRF-funded international collaborative research project to address global urban challenges and grow research capacity in Africa and Asia.

The workshop, on the 15th and 16th of February 2023, focused on Urban Neighbourhood Sustainability and Impacts from Covid-19, had two aims:

  • To share SHLC research findings with partner teams, University of Glasgow researchers and wider international research communities
  • To identify future research directions and facilitate further research collaboration between current SHLC team members and other international and University of Glasgow researchers.

SHLC Event Opened by Sara Carter

The event was opened by Professor Sara Carter OBE FRSE, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Social Sciences, at the University of Glasgow.

Professor Debolina Kundu, Co-investigator for the SHLC project, shared her thoughts about the event:

“It was a great experience to participate in the two-day SHLC event among colleagues from three schools of the University of Glasgow – Social and Political Sciences, Education and Health and Wellbeing and the international partner teams of SHLC, which many a times we refer to as the extended family of SHLC.

This meeting was the first in-person meeting after COVID 19 pandemic, and probably the last one under the current funding, which made the event even more important for all of us. It was a learning experience for me to listen to the presentations, especially those based on the primary research of 14 cities and interact with scholars from so many countries.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Ya Ping for his excellent leadership and Professor Keith, Professor Osborne, Professor Michell and other colleagues for engaging in this project. The session on ‘future research and collaboration’ was very insightful. I look forward to engaging with the University in the future collaborations.”

SHLC interactive workshop session

Professor Shilpi Roy, Co-investigator for the SHLC project, also reflected on the event:

“This long-awaited international workshop showcased fascinating findings from our large-scale neighbourhood studies in Asia and Africa. Through this event, SHLC created an excellent opportunity to learn from leading urban researchers in the field. We hope new insights on neighbourhood inequality, health, and well-being will inform contextual knowledge and targeted policies and interventions. Possible future collaboration between the global north and global south would also contribute to tackling pressing urban challenges.”

Download content from the event

Click here to see the full programme and further details about the event.

The Urban Century: Trends and Patterns of Urbanisation in Asia and Africa


The dawn of the twenty-first century unfolded with the world entering the ‘urban age’ with more than half of the global population living in urban areas. It is believed that this century is going to be an ‘urban century’ as more people will be living in cities compared to rural areas. The period is also marked by a southward shift in the mean latitude of the world’s urban population. The current century will be characterised by Asia and Africa accounting for a mammoth share of the global urban population in the present century. As per the UN population estimates, in 2020 Asia and Africa accounted for around 70 per cent of the global urban population. The figure is estimated to increase to 75 per cent by the middle of the twenty-first century. This report brings fresh understanding the macro scenario of urbanisation in Asia and Africa with a special focus on India. It also highlights the regional differences and determining factors behind the process of urbanisation in this region.

Authors: Debolina Kundu, Tania Debnath, Swastika Chakravorty, Pragya Sharma and Biswajit Kar (all are members of the SHLC India team at National Institute of Urban Affairs India)

Executive Summary

The dawn of the twenty-first century marked the world entering the ‘urban century’, which was accompanied by a southward shift of the mean latitude of urbanisation. In contrast to Europe and North America, which had a long history of urbanisation starting soon after the industrial revolution in the 1800s, countries in the global South started urbanising mainly in the second half of the twentieth century. Among the regions in the global South, Latin America started much earlier and has already become predominantly urban. On the contrary, Asia and Africa are the two least urbanised continents. However, in absolute terms, 2.4 billion people lived in the urban settlements of Asia in 2020, which is estimated to rise to 3.5 billion by 2050. It is projected that they are going to have around 90 per cent of the additional urban population in the next three decades (till 2050), which brings them to the centre stage of the global urbanisation trajectory. Asia alone is projected to contribute an additional 1.1 billion urban population in the next three decades, and Africa is likely to contribute 0.9 billion in the next three decades. Unlike Africa, where high fertility rates is driving urbanisation, Asia’s urbanisation is predominantly fuelled by rural-urban migration, in-situ urbanisation and expansion of urban areas.

The demographic weight of these two continents, especially Asia, is expected to have an overwhelming effect on the changing dynamics of planetary urbanisation, with Africa continuing to urbanise at a faster pace as compared to Asia. Growth rate of urban population in Africa is projected to be 3.1% and 2.8% in 2030s and 2040s compared to Asia’s figures of 1.3% and 0.9%, respectively. Moreover, the two least urbanised regions in these two continents, i.e. Eastern Africa and Southern Asia, are expected to experience the highest urban growth and rural-urban transition in the next three decades.

Although both the continents are expected to play a crucial role in promoting urbanisation in the coming decades, the Asian trajectory will be very different from that of Africa. Whereas Asian urbanisation is characterised by population concentration in megacities, African cities are yet to experience such urban concentration. Asian urbanisation, which has been top-heavy with population concentration in big cities, will continue to be so even after the slowdown in urban growth in this region. By 2035, six of the ten most populated megacities of the world will be in Asia, and Delhi will be the most populated urban agglomeration with 43.3 million people. The expected sluggish growth of megacities could be attributed to the lack of growth of unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in these cities. Unlike East Asian Tigers, which have reaped the benefits of its demographic dividend, many Asian countries, particularly South Asia, would urbanise without harnessing the economic benefits of their demographic dividend. South Asia is going through a rapid decline in fertility and projects to reach the peak of youth bulge in 2028, before regions like Southeast Asia, West Asia and Central Asia, which indicates the urgency of a balanced regional development policy for this region.

On the other hand, African countries will experience urbanisation associated with persistently high fertility rates, distress-driven rural-urban migration and a lack of economic vibrancy in cities. Africa will continue to have an increasing size of its working-age population (15-64 years) and add 2.1 billion working-age population by the end of this century. Urbanisation in Africa, currently with few megacities, will follow the Asian experience with the rise in the number and population of megacities. However, contrary to the Asian counterparts, most of the new megacities of the continent will be ‘places of consumption’ in place of ‘growth engines’. In short, rapid-paced urbanisation in Africa in the coming decades will be

Furthermore, Asia and Africa are poised to be the epicentres of urbanisation, without a corresponding increase in their income levels. Much of the urban growth will be concentrated in the countries with very low urbanisation and income levels and poor infrastructural base. As overcrowded Asian megacities have crossed the threshold of reaping the benefits of agglomeration economies, Asian countries need to focus on the development of secondary cities to take benefit of their demographic dividend. On the other hand, African countries need to focus on infrastructure investment and developing high-value-added manufacturing activities to interlink the process of urbanisation with growth. India is expected to become the most populated country in the world by 2023. However, the country is currently experiencing a slow but steady pace of rural-urban transition. However, it is projected that India’s pace of urbanisation will speed up in the coming decades, owing to sectoral diversification resulting in in-situ urbanisation.

Also, Indian urbanisation will continue to be top-heavy. Also, the country is going through a demographically favourable phase with a bulging economically active population. By the year 2025, India will peak its youth bulge. This demands immediate creation of jobs to stop demographic dividend transforming into demographic disaster. Also, the big city bias is going to affect the growth of the secondary cities, which have a high potential for employment generation. To take advantage of India’s demographic dividend, India should focus on education and health, skill development, infrastructural development and the creation of a regionally balanced urban system.

Conceptualizing Economic Inclusion for Street Vendors

This blog was authored by Dr Graeme Young.

Our project, “Promoting Inclusive Governance for Informal Workers in Cali, Colombia,” was built on a simple assumption: that inclusive economics requires inclusive politics. This, in some ways, might seem rather obvious. But it can have profound implications for how we think about informality and urban governance as it suggests that if informal workers are to benefit from development, they must be able to participate in making decisions about the policies that have a direct impact on their livelihoods. Exclusion, at its core, is a political issue. Inclusion therefore is as well.

It is important not to be too prescriptive about what, exactly, political inclusion will lead to in practice. This is precisely what should emerge from the political processes that informal workers participate in, and must be specific to the needs, desires, and values of those participating. Still, as our new report discusses, it is possible to outline some core components of what might constitute economic inclusion for street vendors, a key segment of informal workers in cities in the Global South. Six are particularly notable, and these can broadly be classified in three categories.

The first of these categories encompasses essential livelihood requirements. Most fundamentally, economic inclusion means having sufficient income to meet household needs. Informal workers often live in conditions of poverty, and street vending is no guarantee of economic security, particularly when the earnings derived from it must support multiple people. An important complement to adequate income is access to social programs that provide vital public services and forms of public support. These can take many forms, including, but by no means limited to, employment insurance, housing provision and subsidies, and high-quality and publicly funded education and healthcare.

The next category relates to the ability of street vendors to conduct their activities. This means three things in particular: being able to rely on supportive, fair, and consistently applied laws and regulations; having access to space in cities to conduct trade; and having access to financial resources, such as loans and grants, on terms that are fair and reasonable. Informal workers’ activities, by definition, fall in at least some ways outside of legal and regulatory structures, a fact that makes them vulnerable to various forms of harassment, repression, coercion, exploitation, and neglect. They must be able to enjoy basic protections and benefits to be able to work in decent conditions.

But economic inclusion means more than simply allowing street vendors to engage in their activities in more favourable circumstances. It also means providing access to opportunities for formal employment. Many people who engage in informal economic activity do so out of necessity rather than by choice, and while it would be wrong to assume that all informal workers would prefer a formal job, adequate opportunities must be available for those who would wish to take advantage of them. Accommodating or even supporting informal workers is no substitute to the pursuit of full employment under decent conditions.

Such a multidimensional understanding of economic inclusion suggests that there is considerable scope for the state to improve the lives of street vendors. Again, what exactly a state should do to promote economic inclusion should come out of a political process, but whatever the specifics might be, it is likely that a new social contract will need to be established between informal workers and the state, one that rests on a foundation of a concrete and enforceable set of rights that ensure that informal workers can live and conduct their livelihood activities in dignity, free from poverty, and unencumbered by a hostile or indifferent state. None of this should be taken to suggest that politics should be removed from the governance of informal economic activity; in fact, this governance needs to be re-politicized, providing space for diverging, sometimes conflicting, interests to be addressed and more sustainable, just, and inclusive policies to emerge through processes of dialogue and debate. Divisions—between vendors and the state, between vendors and formal businesses, even between vendors themselves—are unlikely to disappear, as political allegiances, class, competition, values, individual or group interests, and personal circumstances will inform understandings of justice and views of how social, economic, and political life can and should be structured. But a better future is still possible. That is the promise of democracy.


We are particularly grateful to our colleagues in Colombia for the great efforts that they put into this work, which was funded through SHLC’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund. SHLC has been funded within the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant ES/PO11020/1.

Promoting Inclusion for Street Vendors: Reflections on Our CDAF Project in Cali

This blog was authored by Dr Graeme Young.

International projects that seek to address complex problems can, unsurprisingly, encounter unexpected challenges. Adaptability is often a virtue in efforts to effect positive change, particularly when prospects for success are, despite one’s best efforts, so dependent on external circumstances. One should expect one’s best-laid plans to be disrupted, and for events to unfold in a way that is confounding, sometimes profoundly so. Progress has never been easy. It would be naïve to expect otherwise. 

Our project, “Promoting Inclusive Governance for Informal Workers in Cali, Colombia,” provided ample opportunities to reflect on the significance of circumstance in international development work. As the title suggests, what our project aimed to do is to find ways to allow informal street vendors in Cali to be involved in making decisions about the policies that shape their livelihoods. Street vendors, in Cali and in cities around the world, are a uniquely marginalized group, and a lack of political power often compounds economic vulnerability by denying opportunities for representation and voice, leading to policies that are inappropriate, inadequate, negligent, or even harmful that vendors have little ability to change. The key to addressing economic vulnerability, we therefore believe, is political empowerment, and the way we decided to put this into practice in Cali was to try to set up a participatory policymaking process that would be inclusive, sustainable, and, we hoped, replicable beyond the city. That the extent to which it would be possible to facilitate the political and economic inclusion of street vendors would always depend on the right political conditions is, in theory, unsurprising; that these conditions could change so significantly is, in practice, more remarkable. Yet for all of the practical challenges that this posed, it helped to highlight important theoretical points about the conditions that must be present to allow for political—and thereby economic—inclusion in the informal economy. We have explored these in detail in our new report, but they perhaps deserve further comment here.

First, and most fundamentally, open, democratic structures and processes must be in place for any meaningful form of inclusion to take place. These must not be taken for granted. Colombia, where our project was based, is a democracy, if an imperfect one. The processes that could possibly facilitate meaningful forms of inclusion for informal workers are evidently absent, but the broad institutional structures that exist are more conducive to allowing these to emerge than they are in more authoritarian states. Democracy is not a binary concept; it can always be improved, in Colombia and elsewhere. Such improvements are essential for the empowerment of informal workers.

Basic state capacity is also essential. If political inclusion is to lead to economic inclusion, the state must be able to implement the policies that arise out of political processes. But while the ability of the state to effectively govern informal economic activity should not be assumed, it should also not be assumed that poor governance is always the result of incapacity. The absence of a well funded, well functioning social safety net can certainly limit effective governance, but it might also be the consequence of poor governance itself. And some forms of improved governance, such as ending the punitive use of force against informal workers, have nothing to do with state capacity. The simple and unfortunate fact is that some governments may have little interest in inclusion, and some may indeed have a great deal of interest in the continued marginalization of informal workers. This serves as a major impediment to creating more open and durable decision-making structures. It also makes them even more necessary.

Beyond these basic conditions for political inclusion, two more stand out. The first of these surrounds having suitable institutional spaces that make dialogue and cooperation possible. Second is the political will to promote—or even just allow—inclusion, to create and sustain the processes in which inclusion occurs, and to act on their outcomes. This final condition, unfortunately, disappeared during our project, first as a result of how the state responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was already underway when our project began, and later due to the protests that swept through Colombia from April 2021. While COVID-19 obviously had a profound impact on the priorities and activities of governments around the world, the relevant authorities in our project did not act in ways that were responsive to the needs of informal workers or seek to include them more meaningfully in decision making. The protests likely diminished trust further and at least temporarily suspended the possibility for collaboration. Significantly, they were, at their core, the result of long-standing failures in governance, further underscoring the importance of more open and responsive politics that represent and respond to people’s basic needs and interests. An opportunity exists for something better. The question is whether governments will take it.

The four conditions for political inclusion outlined here are, sadly, rarely found together, a fact that explains the appalling record of the treatment of informal workers around the world. And, as our project shows, even where and when they may be present, they can be impermanent and imperfect. But this is no reason for despondency: research, organization, and advocacy can still take place, alliances can be built, and ideas can be developed, shared, and adopted from elsewhere. Our project engaged in many of these activities, conducting a survey of street vendors, sharing and analyzing proposals put forward by vendors’ organizations, and holding a workshop on informal work and public policy to explore these themes in a broader international context. In short, preparations can be made for when the right conditions return, and these conditions can be encouraged by the right forms of political engagement. Change does not happen overnight. To build something sustainable, something that becomes so ingrained in the fabric of political life that it cannot vanish so suddenly and capriciously, takes time. Efforts to promote inclusion for informal workers are only beginning. Further setbacks will come, but they cannot, and will not, deter us.


We are particularly grateful to our colleagues in Colombia for the great efforts that they put into this work, which was funded through SHLC’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund. SHLC has been funded within the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant ES/PO11020/1.

Central Business District, Johannesburg, South Africa

City Report: Neighbourhood Characteristics and Inequality in the City of Johannesburg


The School of Governance at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits), is a partner in the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC), based at the University of Glasgow. A consortium of partners from fourteen cities in seven countries have been studying a major and a secondary city – and the neighbourhoods that make them up – for three years. This report summarises findings of a sample survey undertaken among respondents in Johannesburg, the largest metropolitan municipality in South Africa. The survey is one component of a complex, mixed method, multi-year project.

Authors: David Everatt, Halfdan Lynge and Caryn Abrahams


Johannesburg is among the most unequal cities on the planet, and the results of this survey reflect this fact, as two cities emerge: one poor, overwhelmingly black African, with high social capital but poor service access, reliant on state provision of health and education, the other mainly white and Indian (although a fifth of African respondents were in the highest socio-economic status (SES) quintile, suggesting an African elite is prospering), with low social capital but high standard of liv-ing. It is the middle quintile – comprising primarily townships formerly zoned for coloureds and Indians – that seems to be taking the most strain, with high levels of psycho-social, health, crime and other negative factors taking their toll. The city emerges as comprising a wealthy suburban population that primarily use private providers (school for children, health care, transport) and tend to be clustered in small, not very socially engaged groups; and the bottom two SES quintiles, where reliance on ‘the economy of affection’ ensures greater social interaction and engagedness, but in a context of high unemployment and poverty. The middle quintile seems stretched close to break point. The city is uneasily balanced on this continuum.

City Report: Neighbourhood Matters in Cape Town


There is mounting evidence from around the world that people’s local neighbourhoods exert a powerful influence on their well-being and life chances. The purpose of this short report is to present some of the main findings from a large household survey of almost 1,000 residents undertaken across different neighbourhoods in Cape Town during 2021-22. This report offers an overall assessment of the information emerging from the survey, rather than a definitive analysis of all the very detailed data. The survey was part of a four-year-long study of neighbourhood patterns and dynamics in seven countries and 14 cities around the world. The survey used a mixture of in-person and telephone methods and was based on very careful sampling of neighbourhoods and households to ensure representative results.

Authors: Ivan Turok, Justin Visagie and Andreas Scheba


Cape Town is a deeply polarised and segregated city, with graphic contrasts in living standards and subjective well-being between disparate neighbourhoods. People inhabit distinctive worlds that expose them to quite different opportunities and hazards affecting their health, education, economic prospects and general satisfaction with life. Public services moderate some of these inequalities, but their reach and quality are also very uneven across the city. Some communities are deprived of basic water and sanitation services, while many affluent residents opt out of public services through private education, healthcare and security. The Covid pandemic amplified pre-existing divisions and made life much harder for poor communities by retrenching their jobs and swelling their debt burdens. Higher-income groups were better equipped to cope with social distancing measures, economic shutdowns and remote working. The priorities of affluent communities are local peace and tranquility, rather than altruism and solidarity towards poorer neighbourhoods. Individualistic attitudes run counter to opening up local opportunities for outsiders and engaging in collaborative activities to help improve conditions in other communities. The growing spatial divides in Cape Town raise uncomfortable questions about whether this trajectory can be sustained into the future without disruptive social consequences.

SHLC Workshop

Urban Neighbourhood Sustainability and Impacts from Covid-19

  • Wednesday 15 February 2023
  • Thursday 16 February 2023
  • 9:00-17:00
  • Seminar Room 237, Advanced Research Centre, University of Glasgow 11 Chapel Lane Glasgow G11 6EW

This workshop, supported by UKRI/ODA fund, aims:

  • to share SHLC research findings with colleagues in University of Glasgow and wide international research and policy making communities, and
  • to identify future research directions and facilitate further research collaboration between current SHLC team members and other international and University of Glasgow researchers.

The speakers and participants of the workshop will include:

  • Representatives from SHLC international partner teams
  • Invited international researchers
  • Researchers of the University of Glasgow Advanced Research Centre (ARC) theme group of Global Sustainable Development, and colleagues from the three College of Social Sciences’ theme groups Sustainability, Addressing Inequalities, and Challenges in Changing Cities
  • Researchers from other universities and organizations

The workshop will be a hybrid event with in person and on line access. The workshop presentations and discussions will be broadcast online to other SHLC team members and wider research communities.

The attendance of the workshop is free of charge, but pre-registration is required. You can register by press the registration button below.

If you have any questions about the workshop, please email:; or

You can download the draft workshop programme here:


View & download content from the event here

Kigali: Lessons learned on the city’s strategy to achieve SDG 4

This project was conducted by Vincent Manirakiza, Leon Mugabe (University of Rwanda, College of Education), in collaboration with Jean Claude Ruzindana (City of Kigali), Yulia Nesterova and Michael Osborne (University of Glasgow, School of Education), Candy Lugaz, Daniela Uribe Mateu and Sadaf Qayyum (IIEP-UNESCO). 

Cities play an instrumental role in implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 11 and SDG 4, which aims to ensure universal access to quality education.

The IIEP-UNESCO research project ‘Local challenges, global imperatives: Cities at the forefront to achieve Education 2030’ aims at exploring the key role of cities in educational planning and management, as local elected authorities and privileged partners of ministries of education. Based on a wide range of interviews at the city level with main education stakeholders, the research aims at learning from the experience of cities committed for education and that have developed innovative strategies to address main education challenges at the local level.

First implemented during a pilot phase in France, in 2021-22, the research extended to other regions in collaboration with the University of Glasgow and SHLC (Centre for Sustainable Healthy Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods): Kigali (Rwanda), Manila (Philippines), Dhaka and Khulna (Bangladesh).

Following the completion of the field research and analysis in each city, a series of webinars is organized by IIEP-UNESCO, the University of Glasgow, national research partners and city authorities to discuss the main research findings. In Rwanda, the research was conducted by the University of Rwanda in close collaboration with the City of Kigali (CoK) authorities. A dissemination webinar was organised on 19 October 2022 to share the main lessons learned from the field work with the local government and partners.

Engaging Kigali’s city authorities and education stakeholders

The event gathered fifty participants including city representatives and education stakeholders. Among them, both elected officials and Heads of Departments at district and city levels, the district education officers (DEOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and school head teachers attended and contributed to the discussions.

The webinar presented the opportunity for all the stakeholders involved in the project to discuss the main challenges and opportunities when designing, implementing and monitoring the city education strategy, particularly, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentations and discussions contributed to explore critical areas of quality education improvement and strategies to achieve the city’s future education objectives successfully.

Kigali’s role and education duties

In Kigali, the city is in charge of ensuring access to quality education from nursery to adult education at the local level. In coordination with the Ministry of Education, who mainly formulates the education policy nationwide, the city implements the national curriculum and conducts regular school inspections within its territory. The local authority also mobilizes financial resources to improve school infrastructure, pay and train teachers, monitor and evaluate the budget implementation and education performance at lower territorial levels.

In terms of administrative organization, there is no elected official with a specific mandate for education at the local level. Instead, the provision of education is led by the Directorate of Social Development and Good Governance with one Education Specialist, the city focal point, which provides support to districts to implement the education strategy.

This strategy is embedded to the city’s Integrated Development Strategy (IDS) rather than stand alone as a unique document. As part of the Social Transformation pillar, it aims to improve access quality of education for all citizens.

Main strengths of Kigali’s local education strategy

One of the main strengths highlighted during the field work is having a local education strategy aligned to national, regional and global agendas with goals focused, primarily, on vocational and technical training, STEM education for female students, teacher’s development, and the use of ICT facilities as new learning tools. The research shows that the education strategy was based on collaborative work between local education officers and CSOs, as well as on administrative information reported by schools.

Multi-party collaboration is also visible during the implementation process. Within the local administration, the CoK, through its Directorate of Social Development and Good Governance, cooperates with other directorates to provide school infrastructure and equipment, organise sport activities, and sensitize the community about violence, nutrition and early pregnancy. The CoK also coordinates and partners with CSOs and NGOs to implement inclusive education initiatives, related for instance to youth and girls empowerment, training of teaching and non-teaching staff on special educational needs, and financial support to low-income students. Particularly in terms of digital inclusion in education, the city prioritised distance learning through TV/radio and training teachers in ICT skills to successfully switch to an online teaching environment as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acknowledging the city’s strategy implementation challenges

In Kigali, as in other cities, implementing the local education strategy comes with some obstacles, particularly in a context of crises. Public officers from the local government raised concerns about education not being the first priority of the city, compared to the infrastructure sector, for instance.

“In the City’s overall development strategy, education does not come first as a key priority since the infrastructure is the priority of the city. However, while putting much emphasis on infrastructure development, education benefits from the fact that well-built schools are being constructed and equipped with modern school materials” (Social Affairs staff)

In addition, the field work revealed that the design and consultation processes tend to exclude parents, teaching and non-teaching staff, even though both play a key role in the implementation of the local strategy. Private schools also stressed that the formulation phase fails to include them despite their express of interest in participate. One participant in the webinar highlighted the following:

“There is a need to strengthen the process of collecting the ideas, needs and aspirations expressed through the above-cited forums while designing the Kigali education strategy or the national education strategy” (Head teacher from a private school)

Limited financial resources are also a constraint to a more effective implementation. In addition, education units in Kigali lack of a reserve of budget available in case of crises or unpredicted events which may lead to delays in implementing timely responses. This was the case of the recent health pandemic during which schools reported scarce resources to deal with the early reopening of schools. The lack of technology devices, internet connectivity and ICT facilities to support the transition to online learning were some of the main barriers for promoting effective distance learning.

In other areas, the sanitary crisis also evidenced challenges that teachers and schools had to deal with: poor learning environment at students’ home, cases of unplanned pregnancies, high dropout rates, child violence, as well as a lower rate of parents’ participation in school meetings. Acknowledging these more common social issues outside schools represents a big opportunity to continuously revisit the education strategy and create solutions to address them.

The research provides insights on how planning and managing education at the local level works in Kigali. Disseminating these findings with city authorities and main local actors is part of IIEP and the University of Glasgow efforts to engage city education officers and partners in charge of education to enlighten future innovative strategies that will contribute to achieving SDG 4 in cities.


We are particularly grateful to our colleagues in Rwanda for the great efforts that they put into this work, which was funded through SHLC’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund. SHLC has been funded within the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant ES/PO11020/1.

Art exhibition on problems of Dhaka

From May 27, Alliance Francis de Dhaka has inaugurated an extraordinary exhibition on the urban issues confronting Dhaka. The exhibition on ‘Urban Issues of Dhaka: An Artistic Gaze’ will run until June 7, 2022. This unique juxtaposition of art and urban research is an outcome of a year-long creative engagement with ten artists and 30 school children that teases out Dhaka’s unorthodox yet crucial urban struggles. The exhibition aims to provoke thinking regarding sustainable Dhaka.

The exhibition showcases works of the young artists like 'Rough Sleeper' by Sunanda Rani Borman and 'Eviction and Shelter' by Mahamudul Hasan in the background

The year-long impact activity and the exhibition are conducted by the Khulna University, Bangladesh, one of eight partners of the GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC). SHLC is an international research consortium studying urbanisation, health, and education challenges of 14 cities in Asia and Africa including Dhaka and Khulna. SHLC is exploring new pathways to ensure cities and communities are sustainable, and those living in urban environments have good health and well-being and access to quality education.

Visitors at the exhibition gallery
The show features Reconsidering Map, the work of an eminent artist Dhali Al Mamoon

Eminent and young artists bring more than 19 outstanding paintings, sculptures, and installations to light in this exhibition. At the same time, 30 artworks from school children from deprived communities of Dhaka city are jewels of this event. Dr Kazi Ghiyasuddin, Shahid Kabir, Dhali Al Mamoon, Tayeba Begum Lipi and Mahbubur Rahman are the participating eminent artists. The exhibition also includes five young artists: Sunanda Rani Borman, Mahamudul Hasan, Md. Mojahidur Rahman Sarker, Kuntal Barai and S.M. Shaha Anisuzzaman Faroque. Architect Salauddin Ahmed curates the show.

'Waif' by Md Mojahidur Rahman Sarker
'Topion' by Mahbubur Rahman is exhibited in the show

The works of the artists capture interesting and critical urban problems including rough sleepers, shelter and health vulnerability of the poor, lost neighbourhood life, (in) security, the life of non-human agents in cities, urban tranquillity, thrown togetherness, and hopes of urbanites.

While introducing the exhibition, the concept designer of the impact activity that resulted in the exhibition, Professor Tanjil Sowgat says, “We designed the exhibition following a storyline that starts from individual issues and ends by questioning philosophical standpoints. The exhibition curator Architect Salaudddin Ahmed adds ‘‘The interesting space design will surprise the audience as it will remind them of the challenges and the negotiations people confront in Dhaka. You will surely see a different Alliance Francis de Dhaka”.

Book opening ceremony

SHLC Co-Investigator and the event organiser, Dr Shilpi Roy, an associate professor at Khulna University, is optimistic that the event will provoke new thinking regarding the rhizomatic nature of problems in Dhaka. She adds, “we aim to reach out to the policymakers, citizens and scholars through this event so that they start thinking about and respond to the complex issues around sustainable Dhaka.”

Shilpi Roy and Tanjil Sowgat have documented the year-long research work and findings from the interviews with the artists in a book. The book shares SHLC findings on Dhaka to date, the method followed to conduct the engagement activity, narratives on the artworks, a curatorial note, and the unorthodox yet critical reflections regarding Dhaka revealed from this impact activity. While talking about the book, Dr Roy says, “the book showcases how cross-disciplinary work can benefit urban research and the fascinating outcome of our journey.”