In 1997, the Uganda government introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE) to promote free access to education for children aged between six to12 years by 2000. The government additionally introduced the Universal Secondary Education (USE) to cater for the huge numbers from free primary education provided under UPE.
The UPE policy based on four children per family subsequently evolved into one where all children receive free primary schooling.
Although Uganda has made great strides in providing free education, Girls’ education is beset with many limitations such as low completion rates and poor performance. One-third of girls compared to half of the boys who enrolled in primary were still in school at the age of 18, also lagging behind boys in performance in national examinations.
Many girls are leaving school without acquiring the most basic literacy, numeracy and life skills. The failure to access and complete a basic cycle of primary education gravely limits future opportunities for girls.
At STDF, We are working to dismantle barriers that girls and young women face when trying to obtain an education.
There are many obstacles standing in the way of girls’ education. These include child marriage, sanitation, preference of sons over daughters, distance to school, poverty and teenage pregnancy.
Our strategies of keeping girls in school are based on evidence and they include:
Our society’s obsession with marriage has ruined many lives. Girls are denied education and instead forced to marry at an early age, often before she is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing. Due to lack of education, she cannot make an informed decision of whether she indeed wishes to marry or not, and has no say in choosing the person she will spend her entire life with.
The deep-set social norm that sons will take care of the parents in their old age, while girls will have to get married and leave the parents’ house leads to a lot of preferential treatment to the sons and subsequently, discrimination against the girl child from a very young age. This then leads to parents not giving any importance to the education of the girl child.
Lack of basic facilities such as toilets and hand washing areas force children to stay out of school. Girls are especially affected by a lack of toilet facilities once they reach menstruation age. They may be either be absent from school on a regular basis, or drop out altogether.
In rural areas, children have to walk, often alone, through forests, rivers, or deserted areas for several kilometres to reach school. Due to increased risk of violence against girls, parents prefer their daughters stay safe at home. Even those who are fortunate enough to attend school face challenges with physical access to classrooms.
Financial Constraints create hurdles for many parents in educating the girl child. When families lack the income for food, health care, rent, transport, school fees and uniforms, girls are the first to drop out of school.
Teenage pregnancy is a major concern in Ugandan schools and it has had detrimental effects on the education and future plans of the learners. Having to balance motherhood and education simultaneously appears to be an overwhelming experience for teenage mothers. As a result, irregular school attendance and poor school performance during and after pregnancy often lead to the girls dropping out of school.
According to the World Bank, educated women tend to be healthier than their uneducated counterparts, they participate more in the formal labour market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, and their children should they choose to become mothers are likely to have better health care and education than those whose mothers have no education. Besides, education is the foundation for gender equity and social justice
We are working to dismantle the barriers that girls and young women face when trying to obtain an education. Our strategies to dismantle the barriers are based on evidence and they include:
Together, we can dismantle the barriers to girls’ education. To make this happen, we need your generosity and compassion.
By investing in the life of a girl in need, you’ll help her to stay in school and avoid child marriage, all while providing access to the resources she needs to safely transition to a secure and fulfilling adulthood.