This week at Police Primary School, the P6 class took a shot at answering these tough questions. I sat at the back of the classroom and observed while so many students eagerly raised their hands to contribute. They seemed to know exactly who they were, or at least they were trying to understand. “I am a fat girl. I am stubborn. I am strong,” one student said. ‘Others say I am a polite girl. I am a hard working girl,’ another added.
This lesson is part of a complete unit regarding ‘identities’. Identity is said to relate to self-image, self-esteem, and individuality. Throughout our lives we are often changing and questioning our identities but in adolescence, it is when youth first begin to distinguish themselves as individuals. It is a critical time for one to ask themselves these questions, especially if they have never lived in a peaceful society. In northern Uganda, over 25,000 children were abducted to become combatants or sex slaves during the 20-year conflict; 7,500 of those children were girls of whom 1,000 returned from LRA captivity having conceived children of their own (United Nations). During that time, I’m sure many of them questioned who they were, where they were going and if they would even survive. Their identity was so construed that many didn’t even have the chance to ask the questions a typical child should ask.
This is why the Insight Peace Education Project has taken the unique approach to providing students with the opportunity to raise these questions. ‘Who are you in your own thinking? What does it mean?’ Instead of someone defining their roles in society, they have a chance to think for themselves. Now, more than ever, northern Uganda must continue to promote peace. These students need to continue to ask these questions. They need to question who they are and try to understand it. These students are the future of Uganda, and when they have peace, the entire nation will too.