Early Childhood Education Is the Key to the Betterment of Society

Early Childhood Education
education is the key

Call for Action: Fundraising for Ordinary level Education

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Let’s join hands and help the impoverished families in Lubongo Parish Buikwe District Uganda.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. We start from where we’re, use what we have and give what we can. Support the cause.

Education In Uganda

Uganda has one of the largest populations of young people in the world with over 56 percent of its 37 million people under the age of 18, and more than 52 percent under age 15. Children are also the single largest demographic group living in poverty in Uganda.

Children living on the streets in the capital, Kampala, and throughout Uganda’s urban centers face violence and discrimination by police, local government officials, their peers, and the communities in which they work and live. Some left home because of domestic abuse, neglect, and poverty, only to suffer brutality and exploitation by older children and homeless adults on the streets. They often lack access to clean water, food, medical attention, shelter, and education.

With increasing global urbanization, the underserved areas of Uganda tend to be somewhat left behind. Considering education, the Universal Primary Education policy which has been adopted and implemented by Uganda should make sure that all children attend school.

Therefore, children in underserved communities have a right to attend basic education, but it has been argued that the quality of education in remote areas has become challenging. The challenge lies in the distance that needs to be traveled by many children in underserved communities of Uganda in order to meet the expected time of arrival and Millennium Development Goal of education.

Improving the learning needs of rural children might be crucial in achieving the expected time of arrival and millennium development goal, because of the large rural populations in underserved communities of Uganda.

The reason that rural education and rural development in general is an important issue, is that over 85 percent of Uganda’s population still lives in underserved communities out of a population of 48.96 million 2022. Uganda has done remarkably well on access-related targets since the introduction of Universal Primary Education in 1997, but this has not been without effects on the quality of education. The enormous increase of enrolment did not only have a severe impact on the education system and infrastructure, but it changed the school-going population as well. Uganda offered poor, uneducated parents from remote areas the opportunity to send their children to school. Furthermore, the low literacy levels in both English and a local language are particularly low outside Kampala and in rural areas. Additionally, the underlying causes result in a lower level of quality of education in rural areas, in comparison to Uganda’s capital Kampala. There are several causes, for example. The lack of qualified teachers, which are critical especially in rural areas.

The Global Monitoring Report states that trained teachers are often concentrated in urban areas: whereas 60% of teachers in Kampala are trained, the figure is 11% in a rural district in North-western Uganda. Additionally, the northern regions were marked by pupil/teacher ratios in excess of 90:1; nearly double the national average. Additionally, the Global Monitoring Report argues that trained teachers are more likely to choose to work in urban areas, especially in systems where their remuneration is linked to parental contributions. Likewise, opportunities for professional development are also more likely to be concentrated in urban areas. Furthermore, urban areas may be seen as preferable to rural areas for other reasons, ranging from the quality of housing, amenities and schools to the proximity of friends and family. In short, the qualifications and motivation of the teachers can be important factors for the quality of education in a rural area.

Another factor which is affecting the performance and attendance in rural primary schools is poverty. The probability of being poor is at least twice as high for the rural population in Uganda. Rural poverty leads to underachievement of children at school. Moreover, poverty combined with lack of commitment makes the parents unable to provide meals for their children, which causes irregular school attendance. The lack of nutrition influences the performance at school, particularly in underserved communities. Several factors influence performance, including: food insecurity, poverty and distance to walk between home and school. All in all, the educational quality outcomes are affected by more than just school inputs. This holds that the assumptions formulated in the introduction are confirmed: the quality of education is especially challenging in underserved communities.

These examples show that the quality of rural education is confronted with even more challenges than urban schools and it can be concluded that urban-rural differences create a layer of inequality. It is concluded that underserved communities in Uganda have to deal with more barriers in comparison to the urban areas.

Children living on the streets in the capital, Kampala, and throughout Uganda’s urban centers face violence and discrimination by police, local government officials, their peers, and the communities in which they work and live. Some left home because of domestic abuse, neglect, and poverty, only to suffer brutality and exploitation by older children and homeless adults on the streets. They often lack access to clean water, food, medical attention, shelter, and education.

At Zidan Benevolence, we believe that the simplest solution to bringing more children out of poverty is by giving them the opportunity to make something of themselves and to give these children a chance at success. We believe providing children with education is the first step towards a better future. Students in many countries in Africa pay fees to attend school. Even if school is “free,” students must have uniforms and supplies that they often cannot afford. Most “higher standard” schools in East Africa are boarding schools, requiring students to live away from home and pay fees for their living expenses and tuition.

Boarding Schools

Sometimes boarding school is necessary because there is no “higher standard” school within walking distance (an hour or two) from the child’s home or because the child’s living conditions are not conducive to the amount of studying required, getting enough sleep etc. Occasionally, a boarding school is necessary because the child has nowhere to live if his/her parents are deceased or have left the home, or the family has been scattered because of the war in northern Uganda.

More often, secondary schools have boarding sections or the entire school might be a boarding school. Some boarding schools might take students as young as 10 years.

Why Are There School Fees?

If a school is not a designated Universal Primary Education school where the government allows students to attend for free, then the parents must pay whatever school fees each primary school charges. This is usually not affordable for the very poor family living on less than $3 per day.

In addition, the family must pay for uniforms (required at all schools), possibly a particular type of shoe, a sports uniform, school supplies, exam fees, and possibly other “minor” items which are huge to a poor family. Typical annual primary school required costs range from $58 to $286 for day schools.

And it is worse for secondary school where tuition is typically required, more books and supplies are needed and things are just more expensive. Boarding school adds more costs, but is still very minimal compared to the U.S. boarding costs. Secondary school annual fees are more often in the $286 to $457 range for day schools. Boarding schools are typically from $429 to $1286 or more when all costs are considered.

What Happens If the School Fees Aren’t Paid?

If school fees aren’t paid, your child can’t enter school. If you can’t pay the fees during the year, after the child has started, then your child is “chased from school” meaning sent home and can’t return until fees are paid. For many poor families, having children chased from school is a fairly frequent event. They miss some school, pay fees, go back, get chased away a few weeks later, and so it continues all school year.

The bottom line is the child may miss so much school, that he starts a long slow slide toward the bottom of his class. Ultimately, this hurts him so much that he/she eventually drops out of school. Especially at the secondary levels, children may be sitting at home right now, just hoping that their parents will somehow be able to afford to pay their school fees for the next school year so that they might continue. Often, these children never return to school. Jobs are so difficult to find, it would be unusual for a child to be able to find a job to earn his/her own school fees.

The government runs “government schools” which go from P-1 (like kindergarten in the U.S.) to P-7. These are called primary schools. Then, there are also government run secondary schools for S-1 to S-6 which is like 7th to 12th grade in the U.S. There are major exams at the P-7, S-4 and S-6 levels. If your scores are not high enough, then you are not allowed to continue on in school. At this point, you might consider vocational training if you can afford it.

Since about 1998, the Ugandan government allows three children from each family to attend primary school while paying only minimal tuition in certain schools (called UPE schools for “universal primary education”) in underserved communities. However, few of the children in underserved communities go to schools which receive this benefit due to the mentioned factors above. Therefore, the parents must pay whatever fees the schools charge. Some schools in the Kitgum area have this benefit which results in a lower annual school fee requirement for a beader’s child who is in a UPE school.

Private Schools and “Higher Standard” Schools

Private schools are very common in Uganda for many reasons. Sometimes the closest government school is considered to have a “lower standard” as evidenced by the quality of teachers, condition of the school and exam grades the students receive. If a child intends to go to university, then he/she will need to attend a school with a “higher standard” in order to be able to pass all the necessary exams to enter the university.

Therefore, the family might decide to send their child to a private school to achieve this. Often, the secondary schools will have varied programs of study, and sometimes particular private secondary schools are more desirable for being able to enter the university and possibly obtaining a government scholarship. Secondary schools which teach the courses in English are sometimes considered to be preferable to ones that don’t. Sometimes schools with religious affiliations are desired.

Not Going to School

Often the government run schools are very crowded with over 60 students in one classroom. Occasionally, a class may not have a teacher at all. In underserved communities, some schools may be meeting under a tree. Some may discriminate against female students. As a parent, you must be very wary about your child’s welfare at school and do whatever you might possibly be able to afford to ensure he/she gets a good education. If conditions are too bad at the closest school, and you can afford nothing else, then perhaps it means your child does not attend school at all.