Northern Uganda is among the poorest and most backward regions of the country. Although state-run schools have been free of charge for a number of years now, only three-quarters of the girls go to school. Books and school uniforms are expensive. What's more, the privilege of education is usually reserved for boys. Some parents even believe that education is a waste of time for their daughters. Poverty forces many families to marry off their daughters at an early age. These girls remain illiterate and are dependent upon others for the rest of their lives. If a girl is pregnant, she has to leave school and has little chance of returning after the birth of her child. Without education, many girls remain trapped in poverty.
For those girls who attend school, conditions are horrendous. The few existing toilets are in a disastrous state. They consist of ramshackle outhouses that are squalid and filthy and have no doors. Some schools have no toilets whatsoever. The children have to relieve themselves in the open. When the girls have their period, they can't go to school because there are no sanitary pads. So they miss a great deal of instruction and fall behind.
- More girls should be enrolled in school.
In Uganda, we are collaborating with an experienced partner, the Charity for Peace Foundation. To secure the long-term success of the project we pursue a participatory approach that closely involves children, parents and teachers. They want to see more girls go to school and ensure that fewer have to drop out. Creating an inviting learning environment is an additional important aspect of the project.
A total of 100 disadvantaged girls receive a scholarship that pays for uniforms, books, school materials and food. Furthermore, efforts are underway to build 15 counselling centres that help girls who are facing problems. For example, if a girl becomes pregnant she can seek advice here and, if necessary, will be referred to an expert. The toilets in the schools are renovated or new ones are built. The children in the project area have organised themselves in roughly 100 children's groups. The groups are a safe space where they can talk about their needs and discuss problems. "In the schools and the groups, the children learn everything about their rights and obligations", explains Anthony Atkol, the local project coordinator. "But parents, teachers and village communities also learn about these topics in workshops".
To help pave the way for their daughters to attend school, the mothers set up self-help groups. The groups save money together and grant small loans to each other. This allows them to develop their own business ideas and secure a regular source of income. The groups also produce sanitary pads for girls, which allow them go to school at any time of the month.
Project No. 66251