Makerere University is to host the first Rotary International Peace Centre in Africa to help deal with conflict resolution.
The Centre, which will be hosted by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, will be fully supported by Rotary International financially to offer full scholarships.
Makerere University and Rotary International top officials yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the university’s Main Building Council Room to seal the partnership.
The signing was done by the university’s vice-chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for the university, as well as Bryn Styles (Rotary International Peace Centres Chair) and Olayinka Babalola (Rotary International vice-president) for Rotary International.
Nawangwe said this was a great milestone for Makerere to host the first-ever Rotary Peace Centre on the entire continent. Makerere’s Rotary Peace Centre makes it the seventh centre in the world.“We are offering structures and other facilities and the human resource, while the Rotary International will be providing the financial support for the successful applicants,” he added.
The Centre is to offer a postgraduate certificate programme to peace and development leaders, who are from or who have worked in Africa to address the underlying challenges to peace in the region. The year-long programme will focus on peacebuilding, conflict transformation/resolution and development, to offer solutions that are of particular relevance throughout the African continent and beyond.
The training and mentorship will offer hands-on experience for the trainees to complement course works that address topics including human rights, governance and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies will focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.
The programme will incorporate the positive peace framework pioneered by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), as well as apply concepts grounded in mediation and negotiation, African philosophy, and indigenous mechanisms for conflict resolution. Citing the current standoff between Uganda and Rwanda, Nawangwe said the centre will look at the underlying causes of such conflicts and come up with solutions to ensure they do not occur again.
He stressed that Makerere University is situated in the heart of the Great Lakes region, which had experienced the most strife and most conflicts in Africa. “We have had frequent experience with conflict, so we established our peace programme more than 15 years ago to expand our expertise and augment our engagement in the area of conflict and peace.
Partnering with an international organisation like Rotary allows us to demonstrate on a global scale what we have been doing in our local environment,” Nawangwe noted. He said based on Makerere’s past rich experience, they are committed to confronting any strife in populations all over the world. Styles said this is aimed at finding solutions to the conflicts in different parts of the world. He noted that in addition to conflict resolution, Rotarians also help in providing basic education, addressing the issues of maternal health and water and sanitation.He said the Centre will help expand rotary works and reach out to more people. Styles said the programme is designed to accommodate working professionals with at least five proven experiences in the areas of peace and development.
The programme will have two cohorts a year, each with 20 fellows. The first class will begin in February 2021. “Those who want to be part should follow the online application guidelines starting February 2020. It is going to be competitive, as people all over the world apply to take up the opportunity,” he added.
He said successful candidates will be fully-funded for everything. Every year, Rotary awards up to 130 fully-funded scholarships for dedicated peace and development leaders globally to study in the now seven peace centres programmes. The Rotary District Governor, Xavier Sentamu, explained that with other Rotarians, they managed to convince the committee to have the centre in Uganda. “Now that we have the centre here, we must help find solutions to pressing issues,” he added. Babalola said the Peace Centre has been established to respond to the need to resolve conflicts and strikes in various regions of African countries like Burundi, Sudan, Ethiopia among others.