Connecteach’s parternship with the schools in Iganga district, Uganda continues to provide critical information on the barriers to education within their communities. Over the past couple of months, these teachers have been working hard to collect data for a survey that they created with our guidance, which they hope will give them a better perspective on these barriers. This survey seeks information on employment, the status of education, marriage, domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, environmental issues, and other societal problems. Through this survey, we have learned two of the biggest problems affecting these areas: child marriage and school dropout among females. Although these two problems seem very big and tough to address, these teachers have taken the first steps in leading their communities’ development toward an impactful education system. To help with this process, we would like to highlight how these two issues can become roadblocks to education and how the support of education can eradicate them.
To begin, child marriage is not only an issue in terms of education, but also acts as a healthcare and societal problem. Through this survey, it seems that child marriage is a reaction to economic difficulties, however, child marriage does nothing to lessen these worries. Child marriage leads to the students dropping out of school against their will, without the knowledge or skills of how to maintain a household, how to work to support themselves financially, or ability to create a fulfilling life, leaving these children to have a more difficult time in managing their economic situations. Child marriage can also lead to pregnancy in young girls, whose bodies are not yet developed enough to have children, causing health problems in the young mother and in the child. In addition, with the developing minds of these young parents, it is unreasonable to expect them to raise children who can mature to overcome the problems of their own future. By focusing on solving these economic problems, through the support of education, rather than child marriage, the solution will come about more effectively as children will have the skills they need to seek out jobs and the maturity to plan their future.
The second issue of student dropout among females is not separate from our first issue. Child marriage can be a result of female dropout, but also is a contributing factor. Female students worldwide are more often pulled out of school, as opposed to their male counterparts, to learn about how to manage and maintain a household and raise children in order to prepare them for married life. However, this does not allow female students to gain the skills needed to contribute most effectively to her household and community. Alternatively, allowing them to remain in school, despite economic difficulties, can alleviate problems in the future, such as early pregnancy, and allow them to add a female perspective to a developing community.
In short, these teachers have begun the process towards an effective education system and sustainable development. Although the survey indicates that the people in these communities would like the government to take a more active role in solving these problems, they can also look to and encourage large companies, small business owners, community leaders, non-profits, and, of course, themselves in becoming a part of the solution. These problems may have had a stronghold in this and other parts of the world for a long time, but through our efforts, teachers are proving that education is the one sustainable solution to a better world.