A Catholic bishop in Uganda has advocated for more education to counter a rapid growth in Islamic influence.
Bishop Matthias Ssekamanya of Lugazi in central Uganda discussed the situation in his country during a visit to the Königstein, Germany headquarters of the international pastoral charity Aid to the Church In Need.
He said that Arab states like Libya are investing increasingly in Uganda. Muslims have gained key positions in a number of Uganda’s important ministries, including the economy and education departments.
Official statistics say about 12 percent of Uganda’s 33 million people follow Islam, while Muslim sources claim around 33 percent of the country is Muslim.
These statistics about religious affiliation are often used as a political weapon, Bishop Ssekamanya said.
The bishop’s answer to the increased Islamic influence is a broad and extensive education effort in his overwhelmingly rural diocese.
About 42 percent of the 1.5 million people in the Diocese of Lugazi are Catholics. The diocese currently runs 194 primary schools and 26 secondary schools. About 75,000 students attend these schools, which are staffed by 2,300 teachers.
The bishop aims to improve the quality of education and the training of the staff. He wants to achieve a rounded scholastic education with a solid human formation so that as many graduates as possible can study at university.
Because education is not limited only to the schools, the bishop is also focusing on the family apostolate.
“We want to strengthen the awareness of the dignity of marriage and of the family among the faithful,” Bishop Ssekamanya told Aid to the Church in Need. “Parents have a prophetic role to play in the parishes.”