Gulu’s Post War Urban Youth: Where is their Future?

A dusty road leads me to Pece Primary School on the outskirts of Gulu town, a city in the northern Uganda. Just opposite the school, is a signpost that reads: “Gulu University Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies [IPSS].” It points towards a sizeable block sitting on an enclosed acre of land. The building’s cream walls and green roof have greyed due to age, Dr. Stephen Langole is a social scientist, who has studied different aspects of post war life in  northern Uganda. This time we are going to talk about his PhD thesis, UrbanYouth in Post-conflict Northern Uganda: Networking Livelihood Resources.

From Primary School Teacher to PhD: Could Odama’s Thesis Be the Key to Correct Uganda’s Education?

One of Uganda’s key concerns in education over the years has been the growing rift in performance between urban and rural schools. Primary and Secondary school grades in the national examinations largely tend to decline with distance moved from the country’s capital, Kampala. Solutions to bridge this gap and restore parity, however, could be in a book gathering dust in Gulu University’s library. Dr. Stephen Odama is fully aware that the knowledge in his PhD thesis could go unutilised, the way of most academic research in Uganda, unless there is publicity and awareness about his findings and recommendations.

“This is work in progress. I feel I just opened the door”

Dr. Christine Oryema’s experience studying in Denmark would be the envy of any Ugandan PhD student who does not get the opportunity to study abroad, especially in countries that provide an ideal study environment.
An ethnobotanist based at Gulu University, one of Uganda’s public universities, Dr. Oryema was among the beneficiaries of a PhD sponsorship through DANIDA’s ENRECA programme. This gave her the opportunity to spend more than 12 months of study time at the University of Copenhagen as part of her PhD programme.

Oryema, the Woman of the Wild Plants

In 2010 Christine Oryema set out to do her PhD. She was, through the process, to find and document the diversity, uses and nutrient composition of indigenous edible fruit trees of northern Uganda, particularly in Gulu and Amuru districts. Although she later narrowed her study site to just six sub counties of Gulu, she found more disturbing questions beneath the answers she sought, leading her to conclude: “I think I have just brought out this area. It has not been studied.”