It is irrefutable that education is a great tool to ending poverty. Education is a human right and it plays a big role in human, social and economic development.
Access to education in the first place can be a huge challenge in Uganda. In 1997 the Ugandan government introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE- the idea that all children should be able to attend primary school for free) and in 2007 free Universal Secondary Education came to the scene. Unfortunately the demand for free education exceeds the availability of places at the free government schools. It is a common sight especially in rural schools where students are way more than the facilities. In most cases, the student population in a class is way bigger than the number of teachers who are also demotivated and overloaded. This means that for most of the population, especially those who want a higher quality education, the only other option is a private school. In Uganda, private schools vary enormously in fees and quality of education.
Some of the reasons advanced as to why children do not enroll for or drop out of school is poverty. The study by UNICEF reveals various reasons why children do not enroll in school. Some of the reasons include; poverty within the households –most people live in absolute poverty, they are too poor to provide for themselves and in such a way they are not able to provide school materials, which are a necessity at school. Due to poverty, families are unable to pack food/snacks for their children to carry with at school. At the same time, the schools are also poorly funded and cannot afford to provide food to the students. Child marriages which is also strongly linked to poverty since families marry off their daughters in exchange for bride wealth. Other reasons advanced include hunger which prevents children from going to school. Long distances to schools make children drop out of school. Sparsely populated areas have schools that are 10kms away from the clusters where people live which is a long distance and this discourages children from going to school. Orphan hood is also a major cause of school drop outs, children who are orphans do not have any body to take care and provide for them mostly on issues concerning education and even if they have them these people normally care less about them and some even exploit them in the long run.
For girls, the situation is worse because if they cannot afford sanitary towels, they drop out of school once they reach puberty. The schools lack menstrual hygiene facilities such as latrines and changing rooms, this creates more misery to the girl child as she is constantly inconvenienced every month of her period. Many non-private schools do not have the capacity to provide food for their students. Sometimes the students have to take on some responsibilities at schools such that they can learn in a relatively fair environment. Students fetch water and collect firewood among others.
Reflect on this video every day, these children carry more than 40 pounds of firewood for over 3 miles away from their school. This leaves them with little time for education. This sets up an unfortunate cycle of poverty and inequality as without a proper education, the future for such children is very grim and uncertain. See Them Grow Foundation is working to break this cycle under our sponsorship program, the organization covers children’s tuition, provides sanitary towels, and buys scholastic materials such as books, pens and pencils among others. We also procure other school requirements such as school uniforms, school shoes and other related school requirements.
In future we envisage introducing livelihood projects to empower local communities putting our immediate focus to the families and guardians of our beneficiaries. This is our sustainability plan for the project as we work toward expanding to other parts of the country.
Our future plan is to establish an educational center where our primary beneficiaries can access formal and vocational education. The school will be a one stop center where we will run various programs such as leadership and empowerment programs for both boys and girls.
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For around $40 per month, See Them Grow Foundation through its sponsorship program, reaches out to the local schools and communities to break the cycle of poverty. Our main focus is to assist less privileged children most especially orphans in Uganda to have immediate access to free, high quality, education by financing school related costs, such as school fees, school uniforms, books, and meals in order to relieve economic burdens of impoverished families. You can be a part of the solution to end the gender gap in classrooms across the developing world and help children stay in school. When you sponsor a child, you are not only changing one life-you are touching and impacting communities. Come and join us as we plant trees for future shades!