On March 13, 2020, the Ugandan government abruptly closed schools and colleges nationwide in response to COVID-19, disrupting over 15 million learners countrywide. The social and economic costs were not borne evenly, however, with devastating consequences for marginalized learners. This was especially the case for girls in rural, and marginalized communities such as Pawong, Jupamagwar, Jupako in Nebbi.
Consequently, The ministry of education and other agencies indicated that learners should undertake online learning or technology-mediated learning on TV, radio, ed-tech apps, and mobile phones. While such learning was taking place in urban areas, for many marginalized children in remote villages, learning during COVID-19 school closures was a deep challenge. Learning mediated through ed-tech remained out of reach for many disadvantaged children due to connectivity challenges. In remote parts of Jupangira Sub-county, for example, electricity does not reach households, excluding children from such learning spaces.
This is where we came in urgently to help. As Edu Child Foundation we are dedicated to raising an empowered generation of young people and our goal to have them learning did not change. We ran an Education Drive that helped in purchasing and printing of school study materials for every child under our care, following the government curriculum. These were in the forms of Homework Packages of school work that the children had missed to cover the academic/school year. These were delivered to every household in which all the children under our care dwell, with instructions. If they couldn’t go to school as was the case then, we had to take the school to them. The Education Drive kept them home and allowed their parents to support their continuous learning amidst the drastic lock-down measures imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most importantly these children were empowered to have a fighting chance at competing with the rest of the children who had access to online and other ed-tech learning.
Every year on May 28, Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated across the world to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling menstruating people to reach their full potential. Today, we join the rest of the world to commemorate the #MenstrualHygieneDay2020, driving the idea that #ItsTimeForAction.
In Uganda, one in every four adolescent girls who miss school do so because of menstruation-related problems (Adolescent Risk Behavior Study, 2017) and these mostly are in upper primary. If each girl misses a minimum of 8 days of school in a term, the implication is that she may be missing a lot in terms of learning and there is a likelihood of losing interest in their education. Falling behind and not having the possibility to catch up with the help of a teacher may eventually lead to drop out. This a major contributing factor to the low completion rates among girls in primary education.
While most Ugandan girls will get their period when they reach puberty, not all of them will have adequate access to the menstrual health supplies, sanitary facilities, and information to enable them to deal with it effectively. Through the Girls Arise Program (GAP), Edu Child Foundation Uganda spreads awareness to young adolescent girls in the communities that it serves, emphasizing the truth that Menstrual Hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and wellbeing of all women and girls and an important part of the basic hygiene, sanitation, and reproductive health services to which every woman and girl has a right. We believe that the improvement of girls’ menstrual hygiene improves general health and could reduce the spread of other diseases. Through GAP, we are empowering Ugandan rural girls in Nebbi by teaching them how to make reusable and eco-friendly sanitary towels that they can use when in their periods.
The Corona Virus Pandemic has spread all over the world, becoming a global pandemic. The spread of the virus has since brought governments and countries all over the world to a standstill, with almost all major institutions shut-down, and all community/social gatherings including businesses banned leaving only essential ones.
Uganda, has consequently not been spared as strong and tighter regulations including staying home have been imposed since March 20th, 2020, and this has been extended up-to-date as more cases of the virus in the country are unearthed every day. For now, over 60 Days of the lockdown in Uganda, a lot of families are struggling and most of all, those in peri-urban communities and the rural poor as cases of unemployment rise and resources for sustaining livelihood seem to get scarce.
Additionally, looking at the poor state of health facilities and medical services in most developing countries, including Uganda, the thought of a wide-spread scenario of COVID-19 puts thousands or millions of lives of those in most vulnerable states at very high risk. It is, therefore, against this background, that Edu Child Foundation Uganda preferred to take a strong stand on prevention of this dangerous scenario in remote communities of Nebbi District (Jupangira Sub-county), stepping in to provide preventative solutions such as providing much-needed handwashing kits to major social and community centers, as well as engaging in community sensitization efforts to raise awareness about the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting basic prevention measures at homesteads in the communities of reach.
Additionally, Edu Child Foundation Uganda, besides carrying out sensitization about staying safe in the communities in Nebbi, also decided to complement government efforts on food distribution; giving a special helping hand to the communities served, especially to address the extreme hunger cases in the villages as many people have been staying 2-3 days without food, especially those who mainly depended on daily income and this category constitutes the majority of the labor force in the country. Through this drive, we have been able to provide much-needed food supplies such as rice, cornflour, cooking oil, beans, and salt to at least 90 families that could push them for about a month.
Our office is open and operational and actively engaged in positive community engagements, helping offer redress to the spread and impact of COVID-19 in the communities that we serve here in Uganda.