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(Amecea News Blog) [Courtesy photo: Panoram of Sacred Heart University]

The establishment of the University of the Sacred Heart in the Archdiocese of Gulu (USHG) is shaping and rebuilding the lives of the local population who are recovering from the brunt of insurgency in Northern Uganda.

In an interview with AMECEA news correspondent, Rev Fr. Dr. Jino Mwaka the Vice Chancellor disclosed that since the University which was accredited in 2016 has holistically impacted the lives of the people through its initial academic programs in Counseling Psychology and Information Systems

The University offers the Bachelor of Counseling Psychology, a course deliberately designed to address the unique issues in schools, hospitals, and community but above all to train special workers to dispense counselling services amongst the local population in the post-war zone of Northern Uganda in a move to facilitate and promote trauma healing. Fr. Jino Mwaka went on to note that the counselors are relevant in the community since most of them form part of the community.

Another program being offered by the University is the Bachelor of Information Systems. This is to train students to focus on integrating information technology solutions and business processes to meet the information needs in effective ways since the flow of information is at the centre of learning, sharing and other activities.

The Vice Chancellor informed AMECEA news correspondent that in June 2021, the University had four new academic programs accredited by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education.

He mentioned that the University has also been accredited to offer Postgraduate programs: One of the accredited programs is the Post Graduate Diploma in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics which is designed to train and prepare professionals in Business Analytic, also known as Business Intelligence field.

He added that the National Council for Higher Education has also accredited the Post Graduate Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership a program designed to prepare and to increase the ability of the leaders to have a long term, wide-ranging synergistic perspectives for productivity and development.

Other accredited programs are Bachelor of Agri-Systems Management strategically chosen to impart broader knowledge in the understanding and appreciation of the agricultural value chain and to enable people translate the knowledge acquired in to well oriented results. The Bachelor of Applied Information Technology is another accredited program designed to nurture people in different professions who are involved in the use of technology to make it more relevant in their field of expertise.

Apart from conducting the formal academic engagements, Fr. Mwaka disclosed that part of their programs for community empowerment of the locals is embodied in outreach activities. He gave the examples of basic computer knowledge and skills training and financial literacy training conducted in partnership with Centenary Bank, for the benefit of the youth in a number of parishes within the Archdiocese of Gulu.

The motto of University of the Sacred Heart Gulu is “Health of Mind, Heart and Body for integral development” and the university strives to promote this in all its engagements. The University is also the main centre for human, spiritual and pastoral formation and training of lay Christian leaders, particularly men and women embracing the ministry of Catechists. Like most of the academic programs and trainings, these have also been interrupted by Covid-19 restrictions

The Vice Chancellor is optimistic that with the team of dedicated staff members, reliable internet connectivity and the good will of the community, the University is set to continue making more engagements for development through working in collaboration with other academic and non-academic institutions, partners and at the same time exploring opportunities to enhance capacity building.

He further emphasized the need for Church founded institutions to work together in a bid to allow them achieve their vision.

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Fr Jino Mwaka underscored the contribution of stake holders in supporting and standing in solidarity with learners to ensure that learning activities of the students are not interrupted but promoted by the use of digital technology and platforms.

Having trained students, lecturers and other University members of staff in the different areas of Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) and digital development, he revealed that the University of the Sacred Heart Gulu (USHG) is in advanced stages of engaging students in online learning in a move to ensure continuity in teaching and learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The founding of the University of the Sacred Heart Gulu (USHG) is an initiative of the Archdiocese of Gulu spearheaded by Most Rev John-Baptist Odama, the Archbishop of Gulu who is well known to most people as the great voice for peace. The University was established with the mission to contribute to personal and social healing, growth, and holistic development of Uganda and the whole world through the provision of quality education, training, research, and community outreach.

Being at the centre of the conflict in northern Uganda then, and upon reflecting on the bitter experiences amongst people, all of whom are brothers and sisters in humanity and in God, the Archbishop observed the urgent need for the realization of forgiveness, healing and growing together; the vision that necessitated the establishment of the University of the Sacred Heart Gulu.

The establishment of the University was further meant to underscore serious investigations in to the challenges of human co-existence and causes of tension, trauma and the need to bring forth reconciliation, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing and growth the region.

Rev. Fr Jino Mwaka attested that, the vision to erect the University started right from the beginning of the ministry of His Grace John Baptist Odama in 1999 at the peak of the conflict in northern Uganda although the institution was finally accredited in 2016 by the National Council for Higher Education.

For any individual to access information concerning admission of students or other inquiries, one can visit the website of the University of the Sacred Heart Gulu, a young institution growing and well strategically grounded in set for growth at www.ush.ac.ug.