Children showing off their new school materials
Location: Kitgum District, northern Uganda
The project has significantly improved enrolment and attendance of pupils in school. The comprehensive educational support which KICWA provides including scholastic materials for pupils, community ‘motivation’ meetings on the importance of education for girls, and equipment for local schools, has encouraged many children within the programme to return to school with regular attendance.
“I am impressed by the turn up of vulnerable children who used to be common absentees in school; some children used to miss class or come late because they lacked books and uniforms and are always involved in manual work in order to raise money for their books and uniform, but since the project began, the majority, if not ill, are always in school daily and on time.” Headteacher, Pangira Primary School
KICWA is supporting 184 pupils (88 boys and 96 girls) in primary school and 20 children (8 boys and 12 girls) born in captivity in nursery schools in the six sub-counties, including formerly abducted children, children born in captivity, orphans, children with disabilities, and children affected by HIV/AIDS. The children are supported with tuition fees, scholastic materials such as books, uniforms, pencils, pens and school bags. In addition six primary schools have been provided with sports equipment, which supports the psychosocial activities that they run.
KICWA organized four meetings in two parishes of Kitgum district on the importance of education for girls and the impact of gender based violence (GBV) on community development. The meetings attracted parents and other members of the community and was facilitated by community leaders, police and members of the child protection committee. The meetings were an ‘eye opener’ for many community members.
“I used to think that the issue of GBV was an attempt by females to dominate males, but after the meeting I now know that its related to the gender roles that need to be shared between husband and a wife; I will go back and help my wife to bath my children.” Parent
Following intensive community dialogue with parents and teachers on their role in improving literacy of children, parents now help by monitoring the educational progress and development of their children.
On return to their former communities, former child soldiers/sex slaves experienced extreme prejudice, particularly if they returned with children born in captivity, and were often consequently rejected by their families. By bringing together formerly abducted children, especially child mothers, and other community members in activities such as education, training and micro-finance, the project has helped unite the community and promote reconciliation.
KICWA is currently supporting 18 child mothers with vocational skills training (tailoring). The eight month training course commenced in early October 2010 in accordance with the school calendar. A total of 78 women were provided with training on identification, selection and management of income generating activities in October, after which KICWA provided support for their respective group activities. The project has led to improved income levels for child mothers’ households. The child mothers are now able to meet the needs of their family members such as paying for their children’s medical bills, clothing and food. Most now earn more than three dollars a day from income generating activities and a women’s group in Padibe west has managed to save 4,210,000 Ugx (£1,160).
Population movement has heightened child protection concerns (e.g. abuse, child sacrifice and child trafficking) since adults leave children alone in the parish while they spend time to build shelters at their ancestral homes. In addition, on return to their former communities, people are faced with a lack of infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and roads, making it extremely difficult for children to travel to school, especially during the rainy season. In response, KICWA has decentralized its services, providing increased outreach in the community, and has strengthened monitoring and reporting of child abuse cases through an appointed person in each village.
There has been overwhelming demand for secondary education and vocational support from the current beneficiaries who have completed their primary education. In response, KICWA has endeavored to explain the scope of their programmes and limitations to the community.
Women are not fully represented at the community meetings because they are often busy with farm or house work. KICWA endeavors to be flexible and schedule the meetings according to the demands of women.
At present KICWA only has one road-worthy vehicle and two motorcycles which serve all manner of purposes. This makes field outreach difficult. KICWA and its partners are currently researching funding sources for vehicles.
Most of the child mothers and other vulnerable households selected for the livelihood activities are unable to read and write, which makes training very difficult. The savings groups subsequently find it extremely difficult to keep accurate records of their group’s activities. KICWA plans to establish a functional adult literacy programme which will provide basic literacy training to all groups.
Due to unreliable weather conditions, some livelihood activities such as farming are affected. KICWA plans to provide the new groups with drought resistant seeds and appropriate training in order to mitigate such challenges.
Business management training for young mothers
A talk on the importance of education for girls