Preventing and resolving conflict among host and refugee children in schools in Northern Uganda
The influx of about 74,000 South Sudanese refugees to Adjumani, Northern Uganda has resulted in increased enrollment in primary schools as refugee children join their counterparts from the host community in pursuit of education.
In some schools like Nuymanzi, Lewa, Boroli and Alere, two-thirds of the children are now from the refugee community. The rapid increase in number of pupils have led to a number of challenges . These include inadequate facilities (some classes have over 250 children); difficulties in implementing the thematic curriculum, which stipulates that the medium of instruction in lower classes should be the local language; and difficulty in marking assignments. The over-crowding has led to resentment among the host community and there are daily scrambles for seats.
These factors are triggers for potential conflict as was evident recently when two students, one from the host community and another from the refugee community in Lewa Primary School near Olua I refugee settlement clashed at the borehole. Members from their respective communities including parents joined the fight.
Members of the Peace Committee, who also belong to the Parents Teachers Association, talked to the teachers about the root causes and advised the teachers not to side with any pupil. One of the teachers expressed how bad he feels when the others ask him to talk to his people in case of misunderstanding. The committee also addressed the pupils, advising them to live in harmony and focus on their education. Since then, there have been no reported clashes between the hosts and the refugees in the school.