By Grace Musiimire
All Ugandan children of school going age have the right to enrol in school until they complete university – the ideal level for education completion in Uganda. However, sometimes this is not the case. Children in many rural communities drop out of school. Many girls become young mothers and others, especially boys, become breadwinners at a tender age.
Parents are key to supporting children to stay in school. However, they are often constrained financially, because they use the limited resources they have to provide basic necessities beyond education In some households that are led by children or grandparents, children lack role models to keep them inspired to stay in school. The challenge to keep children learning in schools is therefore a problem that can be traced from the home to the school.
During one of Building Tomorrow’s quarterly focus group discussions, focused on collecting feedback about the impact of our work at the community level, one parent was asked about whether he would re-enroll his child in school. He replied, “I love education but the money at home is not even enough for food”. His answer made us realize that some parents understand the importance of education but lack the capacity to support the learners with school fees and requirements.
At RELI, we believe that people know what best works for them and so their involvement in decisions that affects them is key. As such the results of this research led us to mobilize leaders and volunteers at a community level as duty bearers to support learners in continuing their education journeys. Community-based efforts are critical for ensuring that the people that make up a student’s support system collectively understand the barriers that hinder a child’s ability to stay in school. They also provide these communities with the information and platform to co-create solutions to improve school retention levels in ways that communities can lead themselves, beyond a partnership with RELI.