Schools in Uganda are set to start teaching peace education at all levels right from primary, secondary and university either as a subject or a detailed topic in one of the subjects being taught currently.
Speaking on Thursday at Hotel Africana in Kampala, Duncan Mugume, a national expert on the peace education project from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region(ICGLR) said negotiations have kicked off with the Ugandan government to implement the idea.
“We have started discussions with the National Curriculum Development Centre on how this can be done.”
At the function in Kampala, a peace education handbook was launched under the project that is being funded by the GIZ, Germany Embassy and the European Union.
Mugume said the negotiations with NCDC will see how the material in the handbook can be used in the curriculum and classrooms for learners about peace education.
He explained that the project focuses on peace education in the Great Lakes Region with four countries, Uganda inclusive in piloting it.
According to Mugume, whereas peace education is currently being taught in schools in Uganda, it is not done extensively.
“Peace education is taught in schools but in small thematic areas in Christian Religious Education and history but has never been given a strong foundation on which a learner can be able to grasp and implement peace related issues other than a few things they do in the subject areas. This is aimed at bringing peace education at curriculum level of learners and especially in schools.”
Peace education crucial
According to Amb.Julius Joshua Kivuna, the head of the department of regional peace and security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the idea that he said would ensure the idea of peace is inculcated among Ugandans right from a tender age.
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“The Great Lakes Region really needs peace because it is the most endowed region in the entire region. We have many resources and people but one of the major challenges we have had is lack of peace,”Kivuna said.
He cited the turmoil in Uganda until the NRA took power in 1986 but also the armed conflict in Northern Uganda, Karamoja region; the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the conflicts in South Sudan and the instability in the Eastern part of DRC .
“We are a region that would be very far if peace had continuously. Our army now is in DRC and what they are doing is look for those against peace which remains a challenge. The peace education project is welcome to Uganda. We pray that in the curriculum, there are local examples of conflict resolution and peace building.”
George Mutekanga, the Assistant Commissioner for private schools in the Ministry of Education said peace education will greatly help teach learners the skills of ensuring peace building rather than use of violence to solve issues.
“Of late, in many communities, differences are solved by fights. In schools, when learners get problems, they solve them through strikes and burning of schools. When a student gets a misunderstanding with the teacher or administration, they just torch the school. This initiative will greatly help impart skills of conflict resolution into learners right from lower levels of education,”Mutekanga noted.
He also suggested the formation of peace clubs in schools to further teach learners about peace building but noted that cultural institutions and faith based organisations also have a key role to play in ensuring peace building among communities.