Difference between revisions of "History of the Peace Corps in Uganda"
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|History of the Peace Corps|
|Since 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries, more than 182,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 138 countries all over the globe.
The first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Uganda were secondary school teachers who arrived on November 16, 1964. A year later, the education project consisted of 35 Volunteers. By 1967, the project had more than doubled in size. A health project was initiated in 1968 with the placement of 15 Volunteers. Once the Peace Corps program in Uganda expanded, the major programming area was education, with Volunteers also working in fisheries, agriculture, computer programming, and surveying. The Peace Corps terminated the program in Uganda in 1972 due to the civil unrest during Idi Amin’s presidency.
Discussions concerning the Peace Corps’ reentry into Uganda began in 1987 and continued in 1989 when President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his wife met with the Peace Corps director to discuss a renewed Peace Corps presence in Uganda. Nine months later, the Peace Corps received a formal invitation from the Government of Uganda. The 1964 agreement was then reactivated and Volunteers returned to Uganda in June 1991.
The projects during this period—primary education, small enterprise development, and natural resource management—aimed to address needs identified by the government in its efforts to rehabilitate and reform Uganda’s educational system, develop the private sector, and effectively manage the country’s vast natural resources.Because of security issues in the capital, Kampala, the program was suspended again in May 1999. In June 2001, Peace Corps/Uganda reopened with a single project in primary teacher training and community school resource teaching. A community well-being and positive-living project was initiated in May 2002. Approximately 60 Volunteers are currently serving in Uganda.
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Uganda
In the first of the two current programs in Uganda, the Peace Corps provides Volunteer teacher trainers in support of the Ministry of Education’s Teacher Development and Management System. Volunteers serve at coordinating centers and at Primary Teachers Colleges, where they work hand-inhand with Ugandan education professionals. Each two-person team provides in-service training support to a cluster of between 10 and 120 surrounding schools. They train teachers and headteachers to improve education within schools, mobilize communities to support their primary schools, and work with communities and schools to mitigate the impact of HIV/ AIDS on the education system.
Improving the delivery of primary education requires more than improved teaching, however. It also requires the commitment of parents and community leaders to make each school sustainable and to ensure its continued improvement. Thus, Volunteer teacher trainers also help develop links between schools and communities. If you have been invited to join this project, you have been selected on the basis of expertise in one of the following fields: early childhood development or pedagogy, information technology, health, natural resources management, or community development. You will use your particular interests and expertise as a window through which you engage schools and surrounding communities. Along with intensive work with teachers and school administrators, you might be the catalyst for developing clubs and workshops, you might promote exhibits and newsletters, or you might work with community groups to support income-generating activities for youth affected by HIV/AIDS. The list of potential activities is endless.
The Peace Corps’ other current effort, the community wellbeing and positive-living project, assists the Ministry of Health in preparing innovative, community-based training programs for its community health workers. Volunteers also support community-based organizations that are working to integrate the myriad health concerns of Ugandan villages ravaged by HIV/AIDS with the benefits of a positive-living approach. Uganda ranks among the countries most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but it is also one of the few success stories, in that it has reduced infection rates dramatically. The government’s commitment, the willingness to compromise on the part of churches and other institutions, extraordinary sacrifices on the part of many individuals living with HIV and AIDS, and the growth of community-based organizations to educate and care for affected people have all contributed to this success. Nonetheless, the infection rate remains at about 10 percent of adults, according to the United Nations AIDS agency, UNAIDS. Education and behavioral change programs must be broadened. Lessons learned about the benefits of living positively (actively seeking physical, mental, emotional, and environmental health) must be spread beyond the population of people living with HIV and AIDS. Ways of supporting home-based care must be augmented, and assistance to orphans needs creative approaches.