November 27, 2019 – In mid-October, experts from the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) successfully completed training 113 students from three secondary schools in the Acholi sub-region in Conflict Resolution Education (CRE). In graduating from our CRE in Schools program, these students completed 58 hours of intensive training throughout the school year, empowering them with the skills and tools they need to become peacemakers both on their campuses and in their communities.
WPDI’s CRE in Schools program seeks to introduce students to values conducive to peace and reconciliation in communities that have been impacted by violence and armed conflict. In Northern Uganda, a place still recovering from a decades-long civil conflict, building a foundation for lasting peace and prosperity can be a daunting task. But, by teaching students at primary and secondary schools in Northern Uganda about topics like conflict management, underlying needs, active listening, power dynamics, and mediation, we continue to foster generational change at the grassroots level.
Experts from WPDI began teaching CRE at Gulu Central High School, Sir Samuel Baker Secondary School, and Sacred Heart Secondary School at the beginning of 2019. During the school year, staff at all three secondary schools reported noticing tremendous changes amongst the students. The Dean at Gulu Central reported to WPDI that “The program has brought a lot of changes, all positive. The school administrators used to have many problems with students, but now we’re getting fewer cases, not because there is no conflict, but because the CRE trainees are helping resolve conflicts.” The principal at Sir Samuel Baker mentioned something similar, telling us that “We have witnessed behavioral changes in the students, and the teachers are very impressed. The way students look at conflict has changed, and they have benefited from the training for the better. We’re very proud of them.”
As the school year comes to an end in Uganda, WPDI will continue to work with all three schools, in addition to new ones. Already, 115 students have enrolled in next year’s training program, and we even intend to offer new training programs for educators so as to provide them with the tools they need to manage conflicts. By doing so, we know that we’re continuing to build a grassroots force for peace and reconciliation in Northern Uganda.