Uganda has the youngest population in the world; 77% of the population are under the age of 25, and more than half are children. After years of suffering from conflict and insecurity Uganda has begun to make considerable economic progress, and the Government has worked hard to ensure that poverty rates have decreased. However, despite these improvements huge inequalities still exist, and many children are still excluded from the chance to go to a safe and secure school to learn.
Uganda is host to the largest number of refugees in Africa, with more than 1.5 million people having fled ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia. COVID-19 caused schools to close for 83 weeks, creating a devastating impact on children’s education and wellbeing in Uganda, with an estimated 30% of children not returning to education after the lockdown. This disproportionately affected girls and refugee learners who were overlooked by state-led learning interventions.
Lack of access to technology has excluded the majority of children across Uganda from remote learning opportunities. 1 in 5 children are still out of elementary school in Uganda and only 28% of children are able to attend high school.
As well as the learning that takes place, schools are also a safe space for children and teachers play a vital safeguarding role. For this reason, school closures have prompted a rise in gender-based violence, early child marriage, child labor and exploitation.
We began working in Uganda in March 2018, initially responding to the refugee crisis. Our programs have since expanded as we focus on supporting vulnerable children in remote and marginalized communities across Uganda to access a quality education.
Street Child and our local partners have successfully established and resourced nine language bridging centers in Kyaka II refugee settlement. The program uses the Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) methodology to educate children based on learning level rather than age. This project has supported 4,461 learners to attain foundational numeracy and literacy, in turn enabling them to return to formal education.
After the success of this program, with 90% of participants successfully transitioning into formal education, Street Child has received new funding to scale this project to the refugee settlements in Kampala and Palabek .
In Palabek refugee settlement, in partnership with Education Cannot Wait, we have supported 7,082 learners to return to education. Street Child has constructed seven classrooms and multiple water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities as well as training 138 teachers. We have also provided school equipment packs and 115 assistive devices to children with disabilities to ensure that as many as possible remain safe, in school and learning.
Following the long school closures, Uganda saw a significant rise in young mothers. A study conducted by the Ministry of Education showed that 97% of girls who become pregnant drop out of school.
To encourage young mothers to re-engage in learning, Street Child uses an activity-based curriculum designed to improve literacy and numeracy skills. Over the course of six months, young mothers attend daily group community sessions where they can bring their children. These sessions aim to develop learning skills and empower them to have the confidence to return to school.
We believe that supporting local organizations and leveraging local expertise is essential to effective, efficient interventions and enabling sustainable, longer-term impact. We are currently working with six local partners to implement humanitarian-focused development programs across the country.
We work through local organizations to bring about low-cost, long-lasting and meaningful change for communities or groups for whom education has been out of reach.
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