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In anticipation of the reopening of the schools as of January 10, we as a team have used the last days of 2021 to hand out necessary school materials to children from 3 primary government schools. Having received funds for that purpose from two Dutch Foundations, we could provide notebooks, pens, pencils and mathematical sets to far more than 900 children of Burimba Primary School, Bwama Primary School and Mwendo Primary School. Also, we provided the teams of those schools with a set of textbooks which are essential for them to have to prepare children for their exams.
Burimba Primary School was the first school where HWMCO-Nederland & NiCA Foundation constructed a rainwater collection system in August 2020. At Mwendo Primary School we did the same in March 2021. Both schools are located on top of the Lake Bunyonyi surrounding steep hills. The third school, Bwama Primary School, is the school located on Bwama Island whose children we safely transport over Lake Bunyonyi every day, for which purpose we have three motorboats available.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ugandan Government immediately initiated a lockdown that included the closure of schools which has eventually lasted for close to two years, making it the world’s longest school closure, according to UNICEF.
Not surprisingly, many Ugandans have become victims of this extreme long school closure. Without education, children become more susceptible to many environmental risks that may endanger their development. As described in this previous article on our website, there has been a significant increase in sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies. This is also the case for early marriages and violations of many other children’s rights. As a consequence, there is a large number of school dropouts.
Where teachers of government schools have still received their salary during the long school closure, that has not been the case for private school teachers across Uganda. Most of them were left without any source of income and were forced to engage in other activities to make ends meet for their families. Many started their own small farm or business to get their daily bread and may not return as teachers; apart from that, countless private schools have not financially survived the long school closure anyway.
As for parents, they were faced with the heavy task to find some kind of balance between making sure that their children would continue to learn through home studying (although hardly ever possible for those living in rural Uganda, which is far the majority) and keeping them safe, while also having to find ways to provide for their families. As many people were laid off following the consequences of the pandemic, it turned out to be very difficult to find some balance.
With schools now finally having reopened, they are facing many problems. Where pupils from the highest classes have sometimes, insofar as they have not dropped out, obtained a diploma during the closure, pupils from the middle and lowest classes have not moved on in the past two years; at the moment, however, many young pupils, having reached the age to go to school, are pouring in on masse. There are countless reports about much too small classrooms and children who are forced to have lessons outside….please read in this previous article on our website information about Uganda’s school system in general.
Team HWMCO-Nederland & NiCA Foundation wishes all children a successful study year ahead while we thank Van Helden Tucker Foundation and Foundation Paulien for their financial support, which has made it possible for us to hand out all the school materials!
HWMCO-Nederland & NiCA Foundation
‘We Fight Poverty by Bringing Development’
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