Education and peace are inseparable aspects of human civilisation. They represent a humanising process, where people are able to live together in harmony.
On the other hand, an education system, to be civilising and humanising, has to be founded on the principles of peace and human rights.
Africa, and Uganda in particular has inherited a colonial system of education, whose core values and interests were to produce skilled workers and managers for the colonial industries and not geared towards empowering Africans with knowledge and skills for building and supporting the African society and the African economy.
Ali Mazrui in his book, Political Values and the Educated Class in Africa, clearly articulated the effects of the colonial system of education;
“All educated Africans are still cultural captives of the west”. This tragedy has further been underlined by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who called it “cultural genocide”; which has perpetuated intellectual dependency on the west.
The experience of cultural genocide in Uganda calls for education for peace to liberate the Ugandan minds and the Ugandan intellectuals from the colonial captivity.
In order to heal the effects of the cultural genocide and to liberate the Ugandan mind from the colonial captivity, this paper proposes a dynamic, flexible life-centered education system and an African child learner-based model, which should be made functional at all levels of education in Uganda.
The education system that Uganda has inherited 50 years after independence is not only colonial, but also dysfunctional as demonstrated by the levels of violence and corruption in the country.
What was meant to be “havens of peace”- the family, schools, churches, mosques, colleges and universities are increasingly becoming violent.
While schools, colleges and universities are expected to be at peace, safe and stress-free-environments; conducive learning environments for constructive-critical engagement, in reality they have become unsafe and stressful. The culture of violence is growing and spreading fast in our families, school and out on the streets.
Our families, schools, colleges, universities and businesses are inadvertently promoting a culture of individualism, conflict and violence.
Our children are not learning the values and the ways of peace; what matters is for them to memorise what the teacher has taught; pass with a distinction, so as to continue to the university to get a degree.
As a result we are gradually beginning to realise that the majority of our children, having gone through all the schools, at the end of the day, they not only have no job, but also have no basic human values and have no capacity to sustain a mutual relationship.
Consequently, this year’s International Day of Peace and its theme “Education for Peace” is timely. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the quality of our lives; quality of our families; quality of our schools, quality of our relationship and ultimately the quality of our education system.
This is a unique opportunity for us, members of the academia in Uganda, to reflect and understand the violent nature of our Ugandan society, so as to identify non-violent ways, which will help people to live together harmoniously in peace.
Education policy in Uganda
There have been positive steps in Uganda to overhaul the pre-independence educational policy and curriculum, which were designed and controlled by the British Colonial Government, and meant to serve the interests of the then British colonial government.
The Education Ministry Policy Statement for the Fisical Year 2012 - 2013 highlighted crosscutting issues as HIV and AIDS; Environmental Education; Gender in Education. While these are critical components and aspects of human rights, democracy, political pluralism and peace education is worrying as these constitute the basic foundation of Patriotism.
In Uganda, there is need to link formal curriculum of peace education and peace studies in schools and universities with advocacy activities and projects like lobbying parliament to pass-peace-oriented legislation; peace marches and vigils for a culture of peace; petitions to Government in favour and in solidarity with the vulnerable.
Foundation of a good education system Uganda’s education system ought to become more and more oriented towards education for peace; underlining a learner centered model which focuses on activating the learner’s potential for innovation and creativity.
In this regard, I strongly recommend that Uganda adopts a dynamic, flexible life – centered education system.
Characteristics of a good school: learning - training centre
It is important to emphasise the importance of choosing the right school for the child. Parents and guardians have the duty to identify the best learning-centre/school for the child.
The importance of bringing up children has been well-articulated by Fethullah Gülen; “If parents encourage their children to develop their abilities and be useful to themselves and the community – they have given the nation a strong new pillar.
If, on the contrary, they do not cultivate their children’s human feelings, they will have released scorpions into the community.”
Given the powerful forces that “nourish” the culture of violence and war; it is not surprising that building a culture of peace is a slow, unpredictable and uneven journey.
Abridged version of Prof. Nkurunziza’s presentation at the Nile Dialogue Platform conference held at
Galaxy International School; during International Day of Peace.