We established NUEP in the war zones in 2005 during the brutal war in Northern Uganda

The 1986 – 2006 twenty-year war in Northern Uganda was a holocaust that targeted civilians. Affecting Acholi and Lango sub-regions¸ and spilling over into Teso sub-region, the war displaced two million people from their prosperous ancestral villages to squalid, overcrowded camps. The war was between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a vicious rebel group that attacked civilian populations and the Government of Uganda.

More than two hundred thousand people died from direct attacks and the effects of disease in the camps. Some estimates are much higher. Tens of thousands of women were mutilated – their noses, eyelids, ears and lips cut off. More than thirty thousand children were abducted and forced into child soldiering.

UMECS anchored in the war zones in 2004. LRA attacks were frequent and accompanied by torture and hacking off limbs. Travel was perilous.

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Left, IDP camp in Pader, 2004; Right, UMECS intern Rev. Tolbert Jallah from Liberia, red shirt, working with displaced women in Pader Town Council IDP camp, 2006

A generation of children was not being educated. Parent productivity came to a halt in the camps. War-affected youth wanted one thing the most: to enroll in secondary school.


In February 2005, UMECS took the decision to establish the Northern Uganda Education Programme – with the goal of sponsoring vulnerable war-affected youth in secondary school through higher education graduation. The programme is now in Year 9.


February 2005. From left, former child soldier Canlit Johnson, Executive Director Arthur Serota, Board of Director Emeritus Rodney Williams and Vice Chair of Pader District escort Rodney around Pader Town Council IDP camp to assess the education needs. Canlit was among the first enrollees in UMECS Northern Uganda Education Programme (NUEP)

Charles Onencan, now UMECS Executive Director, urged the establishment of NUEP:
“Only through the education of youth can we build peace, restore and develop our communities.”

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Left, Charles Onencan, then Outreach Coordinator, reviews Canlit Johnson’s exam papers at Rackoko Vocational School, Pader where in 2005, we enrolled 8 new NUEP students. Right, NUEP students we enrolled among a cohort of 14 at Lira Palwo Senior Secondary School, Pader in 2005. Joel Ojok, UMECS Director of Counseling and Guidance in blue shirt.

Among students who were NUEP pioneers in 2005 include Augustine Okot Read Augustine’s story; Joyce Ajok Read Joyce’s story; Denish Okello Oranga Read Denish’s story; Harriet Atimango Read Harriet’s story;  and  Charles Otto Read Charles’ story

…Return to Northern Uganda Education Programme (NUEP)