Our Uganda education programme
On 22nd June 2017, we were delighted to launch our new Irish Aid funded girls’ education programme in Karamoja, one of the poorest and least developed regions in Uganda. In one district of Karamoja, only 6.4% of girls finish primary school at all. VSO Ireland’s new programme will help more Ugandan girls go to school and investigate the societal norms that prevent them from getting the education they need to reach their full potential.
The community attitude is that a girl’s education is of no benefit, a waste of resources and a serious reduction of labour in a family.
- Head Teacher, Moroto, Karamoja
The basis for the programme
Our proposal was heavily informed by our previous inclusive education programme, also in Karamoja. As this programme progressed, it became
increasingly apparent that there needed to be a greater focus on girls’ education. Girls have differing needs to boys and there are more barriers which prevent them from going to school, including early forced marriage and pregnancy, social taboos and being viewed as a vital source of income for their families. Our previous work in the area also highlighted the need to include the local community and ensure they have a voice in the education services affecting them.
Pauline Faughnan, a VSO volunteer from Dublin, travelled to Karamoja in 2015 to examine the challenges faced by girls in the region. Pauline spent three months interviewing teachers, pupils and community members on their attitudes to girls’ education. Her eye-opening report, ‘From the Ground Up’, highlights the huge discrepancies between the educational experiences of young boys and girls, such as assessing primary education and moving on to secondary school. In Karamoja, the bride price a girl can fetch decreases the more she is educated, with many girls who continue their schooling being labelled as lazy, immoral “prostitutes”. This is something that will also addressed on the girls’ education programme.
What the programme aims to do
VSO Ireland’s girls’ education programme is working to reduce barriers, both inside and outside of school, that prevent girls from accessing and completing primary education. Is it doing so in three different ways:
- Building the capacity of the District Education Office and Municipal Education Office to support schools, including head teachers, teachers, School Management Committees and Parent Teacher Associations to provide education environments that support all children.
- Building the capacity of senior teachers in schools to provide guidance and counselling to all children, especially girls, and to support children to practice good health and hygiene.
- Supporting communities to engage with and promote inclusive education, through the Community Development Office, Community Based Organisations and local leaders.
The volunteers we need
Throughout the three year programme, we need experienced Teacher Educators and Community Development Specialists to share their skills with local people and work alongside skilled national volunteers, who bring much-needed local knowledge and insight.
I am looking forward to meeting the teachers in the local schools and to sharing ideas and experiences together to further the educational experience of all the children in the Karamoja region.
- Breda Dunleavy, Teacher Educator currently in Kotido, Karamoja
Teacher Educators: These volunteers will support teachers to use methods that ensure girls are engaged in learning and encouraged to continue their studies. They will also help them identify when girls are at risk of leaving school because of pressures, such as early forced marriage.
Community Development Specialists: These volunteers will facilitate community consultations around education, implement and monitor an agreed community development operational plan, promote girls’ education at sub-country and school level, and organise outreach support services.
All volunteers will receive a comprehensive support package, including flights, accommodation, medical insurance, training and a monthly allowance. They will also receive monthly R&R (rest and relaxation) trips to Soroti or Kampala due to the rural nature of these placements.