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Reach out to the vulnerable project –Running program

Education is the driving force behind any strong economy and a prerequisite for social and economic growth as it creates better opportunities for those who go through the cycle of education as well as well as providing the societies with a better educated skilled work force necessary for stimulating development (Govender and Steven, 2004).

With such understanding, deliberate efforts by the government of Uganda have been made to promote gender parity and equality at all levels of education by focusing on increasing enrollment of girls and boys in school at different levels as well as attempting to retain them in school by implementing a number of policies and programmes including Universal Primary Education (UPE) launched in 1997, the Universal Post Primary Education and Training (UPPET) and the Universal Secondary Education (USE) launched in 2007 in line with both the National Development Plan (NDP) 2040 as well as the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Despite the implementation of these development initiatives and efforts geared at promoting gender parity and equality at all levels of education through increased enrollment of girls and boys in school at the different levels, there still remains a high rate of drop out such that not all who enter primary schools complete the full cycle in Busoga Region. The Region is labeled with high levels of poverty, famine, malnutrition, predominant infant deaths from anemia-related illnesses, and very high mortality rates. The Eastern Busoga Region is one of the most impoverished in the country as more people are plagued by absolute poverty (UBOS: Uganda National Household Survey 2016/2017).

Relative to other regions, 42% of the people in Busoga are categorized as income poor, as the proportion of their incomes lies below the poverty line (which is $1.25 about Ugx 4,500) a day and takes the third place after Karamoja (61%) and Bukedi (48%) respectively. The Region’s poverty gap stands at 16% (highest) as compared to all other regions in the country. The high level of poverty in the Region is still a challenge to children quality education attainment. 88.5% and 81.9% of the households in the Eastern Region attribute the high dropout rates and non enrolment to the high poverty. “Although there is free education for both primary and secondary schools, parents in Busoga can’t afford to support their children to complete school.” State Minister for Transport, Aggrey Bagiire remarked (New vision 28th/Aug/2018 Betty Angatai).

In trying to solve the problem, more than 60% of underage girls and boys are engaging in the sugarcane industry to supply labour for sugar cane growing in Jinja District alone. The most affected communities include Busedde, Buyengo, Butagaya and Budondo Sub Counties. Findings by the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect showed an 80% of households growing sugarcane in Jinja employing children. Further to this, 7.4% of the children aged between 6 and 16 years were found to be engaged in sugarcane growing and/or had dropped out of school.

Forty-five percent (45%) of the children aged 10 and 14 years were found to be engaged in sugarcane growing and attending school at the same time accounting for the corresponding high levels of school absenteeism and/or dropout in these sugarcane growing areas in Busoga Region. The Out of School Children Study in Uganda; Christine Mbabazi Mpyangu (PhD), Eric Awich Ochen (PhD), Eria Olowo Onyango(PhD) 2014) highlighted Eastern Busoga Region to have had the highest proportion (53.1%) of respondents that listed working on the family farm or business as the reason for children dropping out of school.

Households with female children (30.5%) attributed domestic work to non-enrolment as compared to households with male children (19.9%). The Uganda Bureau of Statistics and the International Labour Organisation in 2014 ranked Eastern Busoga Region with the highest number of children (6-13) in employment. It should be noted that the Region is widely known for sugarcane growing with several established sugar manufacturers including Kakira Sugar Ltd in Jinja District, Mayuge Sugar Industries Limited in Mayuge District; Sugar and Allied Industries Limited in Kaliro District, Kamuli Sugar Limited in Kamuli District, Kenlon Industries Uganda Limited in Buyende District, Bugiri Sugar Company in Bugiri District.

In addition to other sugar factories surrounding the region including Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited in Lugazi, and GM Sugar Uganda Limited in the neighbouring Buikwe District. This proliferation of sugar factories has extensive sugarcane growing, now widely practised across Busoga Region to supply the high demand of sugar cane. This continues to target children especially the vulnerable girl child to supply labour to the growing industry. Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) expressed as number of pupils enrolled in primary level regardless of age expressed as a percentage of the official school age (6-12yrs) is 122.7 as compared to Karamoja’s GER of 39 (Education: A Means for Population Transformation; UBOS 2017), which implies a delay in enrolment of children in primary school in Busoga Region.

Categorically, 20% of the enrolment in this region is in the lower classes (P2) and only 8% is in P7, implying low completion rate. The proportion of children deprived of a meal per day because parents can’t afford is at 52.6% and a proportion of children deprived of school fees, uniform, and scholastic materials because they can’t afford at 59.5% (UBOS: Uganda National Household Survey; 2016/2017) in this region.

Our Intervention: HAF supports OVCs and vulnerable girl children annually with basic needs, including but not limited to mattresses, scholastic materials, shoes, clothing and sanitary towels, and bursaries to support their education in the most affected communities of Busedde, Buyengo, Butagaya and Buwenge sub counties in Jinja District. The Reach out to the Vulnerable Project started in 2016. To date 1000s of children are benefiting from this project. This has been possible in partnership with corporate companies, including but not limited to Century bottling Uganda, Rose foam mattresses, MTN Uganda, Harris international, Premier Bet Uganda, Stella Maris Schools Masaka, 1Spirit Apparel (fashion house) and Asha Performance Ltd.

Partner with us/ Donate to us.

We accept donations inform of;

• Food

• Scholastic materials ( Exercise books, Pens, pencils, Rulers, sets etc)

• Scholarships /Bursaries/School fees

• Textbooks

• Sanitary towels

• Clothing, shoes, sportswear, balls etc

• Beds and mattresses, bed sheets, and blankets

• Building materials i.e cement, iron sheets etc

• Computers, sewing machines

• Any other basic materials or and Services that contribute positively to the wellbeing of OVCs

• Funds