Primary education in a Post-Conflict Area: A case of Gulu distric in Northern Uganda (1997-2008)
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The study on the effects of war on access to primary education in a post conflict situation was conducted in Gulu district, Northern Uganda. This was due to the over two decade conflict which severely affected the region since 1987. The overall objective of the study was to find out the extent to which conflict limits access to primary education. It was further guided by specific objectives and research questions. Education in Uganda has evolved through to the introduction of UPE. Despite the various policies and programs in education by Government working with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that is all aimed at improving the well-being of children through improved education levels, many children in Northern Uganda Gulu district many children are unable to enjoy the benefits of these initiatives. The study specifically sought to address the following objectives that included; Finding out the post-conflict limitations to access primary education in the region; examining the measures being put in place to address these challenges; examining the manifestations of trauma, it’s implications on access to education and also examine the initiatives being implemented to address the challenges of trauma; and coming up with locally relevant solutions to the challenges of access to primary education in UPE schools. This study was premised on the theory developed by Immanuel Kant on Education. This helped to deepen to understanding of the topic. A wide range of literature indicates that economic, socio-cultural, psychological, education and environmental, political barriers. Information for the dissertation was obtained from children both in school and out of school, parents, local leaders, Government officials, and NGOs working in the area. In addition, more information was obtained from secondary sources such as research materials, Government policies and programs, and internet. Field study findings indicated a number of effects that continue to hamper access to education; Destruction of School Structures, Displacement of children to town schools, Fear of abduction, Over burdened and not so well equipped teachers, Less xi motivated/facilitated teachers, Declining academic performance, Orphan-hood and the total lack of opportunities to study, Disability, Increasing levels of poverty, Poor attitude towards education, Challenges associated with Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Cultural practices in Acholi and effects on access to primary education Despite the challenges, a lot of initiatives were being put in place to address the challenges and improve access to education; infrastructure development, improving the teaching conditions, and address structural and systemic challenges. It should however, be noted that stigma remains a key challenge directly affecting children, parents and teachers with limited efforts to address it. Implementation of programs in education in general was still looked at more of need and not a right. Though official Government documents mentioned a rights based approach actual design and implementation didn’t reflect the same. As a result, certain critical issues such as trauma, services for OVCs, teacher recruitment, remuneration and general welfare remained unaddressed considering the nature of the area. Despite having the PRDP, no special funding was allocated rather it is the same funding re-directed from the general primary education funding which is almost the same as areas not affected by conflict. There is need for all programming by all stakeholders to take a rights based approach at all stages. This is in consideration of the post conflict challenges that continue to hamper access to primary education in the region.