Projects - Breaking Barriers to Children's Access to Quality Education
Uganda remains one of the world’s low and middle-income countries (LMICs) and has one of the youngest and most rapidly growing populations in the world; Income inequality is increasing and 22% of children (4.4 million) still live in income-poor households. Owing to the high Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 6.2 children per woman, gains in economic growth are often reversed.According to the Uganda PEOPLE, January 12, 2017 Report, Uganda has a population of 38,319,241 with children ages 0-14 years accounting for 48.26%, 15-24 years: 21.13%, 25-54 years: 26.1%, 55-64 years: 2.5%, and 65 years and over: 2.01%. The report puts the total dependency ratio at 102.3%, youth dependency ratio is at 97.3%, elderly dependency ratio at 5% and estimates potential support ratio to be at 19.9%. Population growth rate is at 3.22% (2016 est.), birth rate is at 43.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.) while death rate is at 10.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.) The same report puts maternal mortality rate at 343 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.) and the infant mortality rate at 57.6 deaths/1,000 live births. Amidst the Children’s Act Cap 59 that provides the overarching legal framework for childcare and protection in Uganda, over 8 million children, 51% of the child population, are either moderately (43%) or critically vulnerable (8 %), over 2.2 million children (11.3% of children under the age of 18) are orphans, more than half of 15–19-year-old women have experienced physical or sexual violence and about 26 girls are defiled every day. There is therefore need to advocate for the improvement and strengthening of the response systems for vulnerable children in order to achieve more equitable and sustainable services and outcomes and this is what HUYSLINCI, through the CFTC supported project shall work on.
According to the STATE OF THE UGANDAN CHILD Report (USAID 2017), one in every 19 children is at risk of dying before their first birthday and one in every 11 children is at risk of death before or at the age of five, due to health and nutritional factors. The same report says that enrollment in pre-primary schools remains low and concentrated in urban areas, offered by the private sector; Three percent of all children aged 6-12 years in Uganda are not attending primary education; There is gender parity in enrollment at primary level but girl child enrollment rates at secondary level is six percent points lower than boys; Seven in ten children who started primary one never made it to primary seven; Only four in ten of students who start senior one complete senior 4, depicting a high drop-out rate with girls being more affected (34%) compared to boys (45%). Over half of girls enrolled in senior one do not complete senior four and only three in ten of those who completed senior four got enrolled into senior five. This major dropout rate is attributed to a number of factors ranging from the prohibitive fees especially for the low income households, to building/school development fees, lack of books, uniforms and other user material, plus class repetition by ‘laggards’ that qualifies vocational training as the best option for them. Vocational education and training (VET) is an optional and a part of tertiary education and training which provides accredited training in job-related and technical skills. It also offers a ‘top-up’ to the basic knowledge base young people need, to help prepare them for the immediate needs of the world of work.
Uganda and Wakiso District in particular faces inadequate monitoring of the quality of education by the inspectorate arm of the education department especially due to inadequate funding and learning outcomes continue to be poor. Teacher capacity still lacks in especially areas of managing OVCs and delivering them to equitable benefits.
School feeding is a critical component of an effective education system, given that children's health and nutrition impact their school attendance, ability to learn, and overall development (SABER UGANDA SCHOOL FEEDING REPORT, 2014). In 2015, Uganda’s Ministry of Education rolled out the Guidelines on school feeding and nutrition intervention programme cognizant of the fact that feeding at school is an essential component of a child friendly school, and that not feeding a child at school is a violation of children’s rights under the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of the Child, and other international protocols and conventions to which Uganda is signatory. The Guidelines were intended to assist in the implementation of a parent-led school feeding program to improve child health, nutrition and educational performance although parents have been slow at playing their part. For the past seven years, HUYSLINCI, supported by CFTC has been at the forefront of interesting parents by subsidizing their contribution to the feeding of their children, a program that has grown to affect almost all children in the six partner primary schools. Our firm advocacy contributed to the passing of an ordinance by Wakiso District leadership in 2016, obliging parents to take on the role and recently (October 2017), the Minister for Education’s instruction for all parents in the country to do the same. We are planning to gradually shift the entire load to parents, in future. Knowledge, capacity and interventions that address social norms need to be strengthened in areas like child marriage; cross-sectoral engagement in child protection law enforcement; and improving the national strategy to eliminate child labour by especially using education as a vehicle.
The participation of children in decisions that affect them is restrained by the limited scope of existing guidelines and the lack of a coherent national strategy and this is part of what HUYSLINCI shall advocate for, for improvement. Key barriers to child participation include: a lack of understanding of what comprises genuine child participation; unequal power relations between children and care givers, teachers or programs; and the negative attitudes towards child participation rooted in cultural and normative beliefs.
There is additionally need to promote positive parenting, continue to encourage School Management Committees (SMCs) to promote community and school-level initiatives to counsel and inspire children and families to keep children in school and learning, improve sanitation standards in schools and support initiatives to make sanitary pads more accessible to girls, and to prevent and mitigate violence against children. There is equally need to advocate for the readmission of girls into school after delivery, expand access to adolescent and youth friendly health services and engage non-conventional stakeholders like cultural institutions and the private sector to play a role in safeguarding the wellbeing of children.
In terms of livelihoods and wellbeing, of the more than 38,319,241 people in Uganda today, a big proportion of it face social vulnerabilities associated with demographic characteristics such as age, sex, disability, unemployment, and other phenomena such as poverty and disasters. Agriculture accounts for a quarter (25.3%) of the country’s GDP and employs about 72% of the total labor force—both formal and informal (GoU, 2015). From 2016 into 2017, Uganda faced the rough impact of consecutive seasons of drought that scorched harvests and ruined livelihoods and this makes the adoption of smart climate agriculture vital in order to overcome such crisis in future.
It is also evident that women are now so much involved in economic activities, both within and outside their homes and as women continue to work outside the home, the need for men to share domestic responsibilities increases. There is therefore need to package community development programs well to suit the due benefit and participation for both men and women.There is however the issue of land grabbing that needs to be reconciled. Land is one of the most essential pillars of human existence and economic development. In Uganda, land is the most invaluable asset for citizens. It is acquired to provide livelihood, facilitate production and economic transformation of the country but currently, Wakiso District registers the most number of cases of unlawful land grabbing and evictions, unsatisfactory land compensations, land disputes and land registration errors in Uganda and currently, the President, alongside his nationwide sensitization on matters of land reform, commissioned an inquiry into the rampant land problems in the Country with Wakiso given first priority. Working with the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA), a membership consortium of national, regional and international civil society organizations and individuals, lobbying and advocating for fair land laws and policies that address the land rights of the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and individuals in Uganda, HUYSLINCI shall conduct community sensitization on the legal aspects of: Equitable access to land, Security of tenure to all members of the society with specific measures to enhance security of tenure and property rights of women, Transparent decision making regarding land and natural resources and Effective, efficient and responsive land administration services to all citizens as specified in the National Land Policy. Under health, according to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016, 25% of adolescent girls of 15 to 19 years in Uganda have begun child-bearing implying that nearly three in every 10 adolescent girls of 15 to 19 years in the country have begun childbearing, the more reason for heightening sexual and reproductive health education for both children and caregivers and to creatively pass on that information for positive results.
HUYSLINCI operates in Wakiso District, the largest and most populous in Uganda (2,246,800 people; 48.2% male and 51.8% female) and with both urban and rural characteristics. Since 2010, HUYSLINCI has implemented the “Breaking barriers to children’s access to quality education” project, supported by CFTC, in Katabi Town Council of Wakiso District in an effort to solve most of the above challenges. Much has been achieved in especially child sponsorship, community empowerment, policy (and rights) advocacy, livelihoods improvement at household level, etc.
According to the Uwezo Uganda sixth learning assessment report 2016, Wakiso was ranked the 2nd best District with the highest percentage of P.3 – P.7 pupils competent in primary grade 2 English reading and numeracy tests. The report says that in Wakiso District, very few children in primary 3 are able to do primary 2 work and that by primary 7, the end of the primary cycle, 2 out of 10 pupils are unable to do primary 2 work. The report puts pupil absenteeism in Wakiso at 15% and the absenteeism of teachers at 8%, areas that prompt concern for HUYSLINCI, parents, government and other stakeholders to work on.
This project offers community driven and sustainable implementation approaches designed to enroot program interventions and to cause greater impact.