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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ST. JOHN BOSCO PTC - LODONGA.
1945 is remembered in History as the year when the Second World War came to an end. Uganda had joined the British Protectorate; Ugandans had joined the British Army and taken part in military actions especially in Ethiopia and the Far East (Burma).
Because of the War restrictions, changes were imposed on the civilian population and on Public Services such as education; 1940, for example, the Army took over the buildings of Gulu Seminary forcing the transfer of the Seminarians to West Nile: The Major Seminary was accommodated in Arua (Ediofe) and the Minor Seminary in Lodonga; The current Tutorial Block was the Seminary. St. Aloysius which was in Gulu had to be moved to Nyapea where it developed as one of the best senior Secondary Schools in Uganda.
In 1945 School Education, both Primary and Secondary were developed and administered almost completely by the Christian Churches, the Roman Catholic and the Church of Uganda Protestant.

In 1945 the Catholic Church had five Mission Stations in West Nile: Angal, Nyapea, Ediofe, Lodonga and Moyo; in each of them, the church established two Primary Schools - one for Boys and another one for Girls.
In Lodonga the first Primary School was started in 1932 under the Headship of Sr. Diletta Nicolini. Particularly was the solemn inauguration of the new P.4, Lodonga elementary School in 1934. The British Commissioner, who took part in the ceremony declared: "This is one of the finest schools in Protectorate." It was the first Primary School of four classes built in burnt bricks in West Nile.

The post Primary Schools administered by the Catholic Church in West Nile were: St. Aloysius College, Nyapea, the only school in the North, which up to 1951, prepared students for Cambridge Certificate.
Another Post Primary standard in 1943 was St. Joseph Technical School, Ombachi. A good number of high skilled people and technicians were prepared at Ombachi for the Public works Department and for the private sector.
A Normal School for the formation of Primary teachers had been established at Ediofe in 1934, but unfortunately it was in 1940, when the War started. It was considered as subsidiary to the Lira Normal School. After its closure young men from West Nile interested in becoming qualified teachers had to be on the march for several days in order to reach Lira.
Another difficulty met by the Lugbara, Madi, and Kakwa students, besides distance was the Lwo language, which was used in teaching the students and during the school practice in Primary Schools.

In 1942 Fr. Traversi had been in Lodonga as Rector of the Minor Seminary for about a year and was well aware of the need of a Teachers' Centre for West Nile. Although he went back to Gulu at the end of 1942, he soon returned to Lodonga. The desire to establish a formation centre for Primary Teachers in West Nile was foremost in his mind; he was writing to religious and District authorities, but apparently without success. In one of his letters he says.
"To tell you the truth, non of us, nor any of the religious, civil and medical authorities have thought that Lodonga would be a proper place for a Teachers' Centre. The District Medical Officer, in a special way, has given a negative view, stating that Lodonga is infested by the tsetse fly, which causes sleeping sickness and many people have died of it. There is no hospital in the vicinity and the only dispensary is about 16km. Even some of the Missionaries have been very sick as a result of black-water fever. Others are pointing out that shops in Lodonga are nowhere; one has to go 75km to bur goods needed in a Teachers' Centre."
There was another reason against choosing Lodonga for the Teahcers' Centre; to us, here and now it seems a very strange reason. It was this.
The Lugbara language (vernacular) spoken in Aringa and in Lodonga was considered very different from that of Arua; the administrative centre of the District, and therefore it would be very difficult, almost impossible to be used by the students during their Teaching Practice Normal Schools (Teachers'Centre) at the time were using the Language of the place where they were situated. However, the official language of Lodonga was English).
When all the plans and hopes of Fr. Traversi seemed unrealizable, something happened somewhere else that changed the situation, something that Fr. Traversi called intervention of God' providence.
The providential happening is described in a letter written by the late Fr. Angelo Romano, who was the Principal of Lira Normal School, where our young men had to go in order to qualify as teacher.
Fr. Romano write: "'The Teachers' Centre situated at Ngetta, near Lira town, has contributed directly to the opening of a Teachers' formation Centre in Lodonga, West Nile;" this is the story.
"Among the students at Ngetta we had young men from Madi, Lugbara and Kakwa together with Acholi, Lango and Alur. During the Course, some of the Madi and Lugbara found it rather difficult to master Lwo and speak it fluently during the Teaching Practice in the Primaries around Lira.

In 1943, three students from Madi failed to qualify; according to the Report, which came from Education Department, the failure was due to Lack of fluency and confidence in teaching.
"As a Principal of the Centre," continues Fr. Romano," I admitted that the students were rather hesitant in speaking Lwo, which was not their mother tongue, but in their native language they were fluent; according to me and the other members of staff, they could be responsible and efficient future promoted. In the same letter, the Education Department Director, made the proposal that a Teachers' Centre could be started in West Nile, if accommodation had been made available.
"After receiving this information" goes Fr. Romano " I jumped on my motor cycle and rode off too West Nile through Atyak and crossed the Nile by the Laropi ferry; after stopping at Moyo Mission for some refreshment, I was able to reach Lodonga in the evening. The Superior, Fr. Satori, welcomed me with open arms and open heart; he opened also his storeroom and put before me all the food and drink he had."
When I explained to him the purpose of my journey, he smiled as if he had received very good news that he had been waiting for. Then he said to me: "Here in Lodonga you can have the buildings for the Teachers' Centre." The news was too good to be believed. And so I asked: "'Which buildings?" "The buildings of the Primary School!" was the answer. "And Lodonga Primary School?" "God will provide!" he replied."
Fr. Traversi who at the time was a member of Lodonga community, hearing God's Providence had realized his greatest desire, was literally bursting with enthusiasm, thanking God and the Blessed Virgin. He got busy preparing what was needed.
In one of his letters he says: "I went to Arua and purchased desks, doors and other household implements, loaded them on a Lorry and hurried back to Lodonga."

On January, 31st St. 1945, the New Lodonga Teachers' Centre was inaugurated and given the name ST. JOHN BOSCO, a Saint with a special message for students who wanted to be TEACHERS. It was in a simple Eucharist Celebration without public formalities, but a New Educational Institution was born.

 



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