In Part XVII of Project Success, we track down Lucy Atekit, Uganda’s second best UACE student of 1992. Ms Atekit dropped out of school but got a second chance, and made her mark. She tells her story to Isaac Khisa
She flies to world capitals with ease, and works for a number of international agencies as a conflict expert.
For Lucy Atekit, who emerged Uganda’s second best A’ level Arts student in 1992, the jet set life she now lives as a result of her academic accomplishments is a far cry from the ‘get-set’ life she endured while growing up in the Teso sub-region during the 1980s.
Ms Atekit says the disruptive Uganda People’s Army rebellion and the Karimojong raids for cattle in Teso helped instill a resolve in her to study hard and make the most of the opportunities she got.
She says she also decided to pursue a career related to conflict resolution as a result of growing up in a war-torn region.
“I grew up in Aketa village and studied in Aketa Primary school in Katakwi District until 1978 when the Karimojong raids transformed from spears to machine gun raids,” Ms Atekit recalls.
“The AK-47 transformed simple theft into massive raids. Therefore, from the time I was eight years old, we left our ancestral land in Aketa and lived in displacement homes, first in Usuk until 1995 and then in Aapolin until today.”
Ms Atekit, who is married to Col. Michael Ondoga, says her family can now visit their ancestral land because the disarmament process in Karamoja has brought security and peace to Katakwi district.
From her primary education in Katakwi District, Ms Atekit obtained 16 aggregate from four subjects in the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) at Usuk Girls Primary School. She however says obtaining a second grade at that time, and under such conditions, was not easy.
“Studying in a violent conflict setting is a very difficult thing and violent conflict cuts off many bright kids from achieving their full academic potential ,” she says.
Ms Atekit moved to the nearby Usuk Secondary School for her secondary education but only managed to study up to senior three.
“Due to the conflict in the region, I dropped out of school in 1986,” she said.
“The following year, a missionary priest from the White Fathers took eight of us girls from Usuk SS whom he felt were bright to Kangole Girls S.S. in Moroto District, a girls’ academy run by Sacred Heart Sisters.
“I did my Uganda Certificate of Education in Kangole Girls SS and got 14 aggregates in the best six subjects. I then went to Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga for my high school, where I was the second best student in Uganda in 1992 with AABB.”
Ms Atekit moved on to Makerere University to study a Bachelors Degree in Social Work and Social Administration. She also possesses a Masters Degree in Social Sector Planning and Management and a specialised professional training qualification in International Civilian Peace Keeping and Conflict Transformation from the Stadt Schleining Peace Academy, Austria.
She believes the education ministry has now developed an academic curricular that enriches students with knowledge.
“The subject content today is much more practice-oriented than it was in our time,” she says.
“Also some of the new subjects are exceptionally good at anchoring our education to the realities of life. This new approach to education will help us produce citizens that are self sufficient and can be either employed by others or be self employed.”
However, Ms Atekit says the examination questions need to be continually upgraded to encourage creativity and challenge students perception and analytical abilities.
Ms Atekit says that she recently concluded an assignment with the European Union as a Conflict Expert for the EU Instrument for Stability that was supporting peace, security and development work in Karamoja and Acholiland.
She has also worked in Liberia as the European Union technical assistance expert with a truth commision.
Besides. she worked with the EU in Uganda, Save the Children in Uganda, Gulu District Peace and Reconciliation Team, UPDF, Police, Government Ministries, Local Governments and Africa Leadership Institute.