By Pauline Luba
From a trade school to a lay readers training college and now part of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) family, the Arua campus has shown a marked growth in both enrollment and importance to the community in the northwestern part of Uganda.
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This year, the UCU Arua Campus marks 20 years of being part of the UCU family and 64 years of being a training institute. Before the campus was made a theological college and part of UCU in 2003, it was offering diploma and certificate courses in theology and also training Lay Readers in the region. However, in 1959 when it was established by the African Inland Mission under the leadership of its first principal, the Rev. Robert Booth, the institution was named the Rural Trade School.
When UCU took over the facility, it had four departments — Theology, Business Administration, Social Sciences and Education — all offering bachelor’s degrees.
Some of the achievements at UCU Arua campus
The facility also had 80 students and 27 staff. However, 20 years down the road, the four departments have still been maintained, but with an increase in student enrolment to over 650 and about 100 staff members.
UCU has since constructed a multipurpose hall, which also doubles as the University Chapel. Another building is the library and a block for lecture rooms to accommodate the increasing number of students. University education at the facility has been decentralized to train the much-needed human resource in the districts at more affordable rates.
In July, UCU Chancellor, who is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Uganda, the Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu visited the facility, located in northwestern part of Uganda, for the first time as its chancellor, during one of the campus’ activities to mark 20 years.
UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Assoc. Prof. John Kitayimbwa and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) David Mugawe, were among the team that went with Kaziimba to Arua. While welcoming Kaziimba, the UCU Arua Campus Director, the Rev. Julius Tabbi Izza, said that he was optimistic for future opportunities of development for the campus.
He said the campus had become a home to a number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic due to their huge presence in the region. Last year, the campus won a regional award as the best higher institution of learning in West Nile for 2022. The criteria for selecting the awardees involved assessing their economic sustainability, operational effectiveness, level of technology adoption, progressive leadership and culture, as well as social and community contribution, commitment and perseverance.
The campus, however, still faces a major challenge of threats on its land. Izza said that the about 100 acres that the facility sits on are under threat from some individuals in the community. Izza, therefore, asked for the process of transferring the land title from the particulars of the African Inland Mission to the trustees of the Church of Uganda or UCU to be expedited.
Among the plans in the pipeline is elevating the campus into a constituent college, a massive student recruitment strategy expected to garner 1,000 learners by next year, beautification of the environment and infrastructure, implementation of the multi-billion masters plan project, development of an endowment project and a staff recruitment plan as well. To achieve the intended plans, Izza argued that unity among the key stakeholders will be crucial.
Jimmy Siyasa, the UCU Public Relations Officer, said there was hope that the Arua campus would morph into a fully-fledged college sooner than later. “In short, there is much to hope for,” Siyasa said.