Girls' Education in Uganda
Girls’ education in Uganda is not a priority for the leaders of this East African country. Because of the huge gender gap and the perpetuated stereotypes of women and girls working in the home, their education does not take precedence. Instead, boys’ education is what is at the top of schools’ minds. In Uganda alone, more than 700,000 children between the ages of 6 and 12 have never attended school. Despite these facts, a handful of organizations are helping girls in Uganda get the education they need.

Organizations Improving Girls’ Education in Uganda

  1. Global Partnership for Education
    This organization granted Uganda $100 million to improve its education system and so far, the results are exceptional. Since this money was granted, more than 18,000 teachers have been trained in early grade reading in English and in local languages, teachers and committees have been trained in more than 900 schools, and as of January 2018, there are more than 550,000 direct project beneficiaries. These results will directly impact girls in Uganda because a more proficient school system will be able to support more children and give them the education they need. The education sector of Uganda has the goal of increasing the participation, performance and progress of women and girls in the education system. Hopefully, with the help of the Global Partnership for Education, this goal will be achieved in abundance.
  2. United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative
    UNGEI has implemented several strategies in order to improve girls’ education in Uganda. Since UNGEI partnerships have begun working in Uganda, the process for developing messages for the national gender parity campaign has begun, female role models for empowering girls have been promoted and support for young people is being led by this initiative in its program for community outreach to find out-of-school children. This organization will encourage girls to take a greater interest in completing their education. Through this work, girls’ education will hopefully become more of a priority for everyone in Uganda.
  3. Girl Up Initiative Uganda
    This organization has a number of programs to empower young girls to participate more in their communities, one of them being the Adolescent Girls Training Program. This program is conducted inside the local Uganda schools and it focuses on building young girls’ aptitudes for individual empowerment and social survival. Girl Up confronts gender inequality to help young girls to advocate for themselves and to build their self-esteem. This organization allows girls to feel empowered and not as if the world is run solely by boys and men. This program provides girls with critical thinking skills and gives them the tools to deal with unfair realities in their daily lives. By doing so, this initiative is forging the next generation of confident women who will someday become leaders in their country. Girl Up addresses areas of education that are missing from young girls’ everyday lives and schooling. A couple of the areas that this organization covers are self-esteem and body image, violence against women and children, children’s rights and leadership skills. This program provides girls with the tools to be a leader within their school and their community as a whole.

If the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act is passed through the Senate and is signed by the president, these organizations will benefit immensely. This act will prioritize efforts to support access to primary and secondary education for displaced children, mainly focusing on including women and girls in foreign assistance programs. This is the main purpose for all three of these organizations and this act will allow this goal to cover more ground as well as being achieved much faster. This act will give girls’ education in Uganda a huge boost, as well as all impoverished countries in which girls’ education is not a priority.

Megan Maxwell
Photo: Flickr

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UgandaSignificant improvements have been made in the accessibility and quality of girls’ education in Uganda. The female literacy rate has increased from 45 percent in 1991 to 68 percent in 2014.

Continuing this trend for girls’ education in Uganda is necessary to transform the country. However, there are still numerous barriers preventing girls from completing their education.

School Attendance

Despite being compulsory, 13 percent of girls between the ages of 6 and 12 didn’t go to primary school in 2011. Of the girls that did go, only 53 percent actually completed the required seven years. In secondary school, which typically encompasses students from 13 to 18 years old, female attendance significantly drops; 30 percent of girls between these ages weren’t enrolled in secondary school in 2011.

Poverty is one of the key reasons girls drop out of school. Impoverished families often need their daughters to stay at home and help with the housework or other income-generating activities. Some families have to marry off their young daughters to receive a dowry, which prevents them from continuing their education. Of the girls that stopped attending school, 40 percent dropped out because of child marriage.

Gender Roles

Another key barrier to girls’ education in Uganda are the traditional gender roles and male-dominated society. Women and girls are expected to do the majority of the domestic labor, often leaving little time to attend school and do the assigned homework.

In some areas, girls are actively discouraged from attending school. Instead, they are told education is for boys. Female students are often stigmatized as being promiscuous. These beliefs can be perpetuated in the classrooms if they are held by teachers, peers and eventually the girls themselves. The desire to participate and even attend classes suffers as a result.

The facilities and teaching style of schools were not designed to accommodate girls. The lack of proper sanitation and privacy makes it difficult for girls to attend school while menstruating. Girls can also face risks associated with a lack of security at schools, such as sexual abuse.

Alleviating Poverty

Improving girls’ education in Uganda can help pull families, and perhaps even the country, out of the poverty cycle. Every additional year of education yields a 10-25 percent increase in the income of a woman. An educated woman will then reinvest 90 percent of this income into her family. Helping a girl complete her schooling will double the likelihood that she will send her own children to school.

Educating girls can also help control the rapid population growth. Uganda currently has a 3.2 percent population growth rate, which is the fifth-highest in the world. On average, a mother has her first child at about 19 years old. Because women start having children at such a young age, Uganda also has a high fertility rate of about 5.7 children per woman.

By keeping girls in school, the rates of child marriage and teen pregnancy significantly decrease. If all girls were able to complete their education, the rate of teenage pregnancy would decrease by 59 percent.

Improvements for Girls’ Education in Uganda

Girls’ education in Uganda has been steadily improving, but still has a long way to go. Much of this progress was a result of the 1997 implementation of free, universal primary education. This policy significantly helped decrease the gaps in primary enrollment between girls and boys.

However, a report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, using 2014 Census data, found that although there were similar levels of primary school education between boys and girls, there were significant disparities in performance, levels of classroom engagement and access to facilities. In addition, there are still significant gender disparities in enrollment for secondary schools.

Because of the profound implications of girls’ education in Uganda, many organizations are determined to continue improving its accessibility and quality. Some of the most effective are local programs, which were developed to address specific problems in Uganda.

Nonprofit Uganda For Her began after one Ugandan noticed the poor access to sexual and reproductive health information for girls in rural areas of the country. It has since broadened into a more comprehensive strategy for empowering girls and women. The Girl Up Initiative Uganda has similarly local roots. The organization was founded when three individuals recognized the lack of educational opportunities for girls living in urban slums.

These organizations address the unique challenges girls in Uganda face when trying to attend school. Educating girls creates a ripple effect, helping families and communities break free from poverty.

– Liesl Hostetter
Photo: Flickr