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30 January 2014

UK government partners with Christian project in Uganda

UK government partners with Christian project in Uganda

More than 4,000 marginalised girls from 20 communities in and around Uganda's capital, Kampala, can dream of a better future thanks to an innovative education project.

The two-year project is being launched by Children At Risk Action Network (Crane) and Alliance member, Viva, in partnership with the UK government. It is part of the global Girls' Education Challenge (GEC), which is the largest project of its kind in the world, and is aided by a significant grant from the British government's Department for International Development (DFID).

In Uganda's capital, Kampala, urban growth and rising costs of living, combined with traditional family values, are leaving four in ten girls living below the national poverty line and most in a position of being second priority to their brothers when it comes to education.

Research has shown that only a quarter of girls complete primary education by the expected age and less than one in five advance to secondary school. By adulthood 15 per cent of women are illiterate. Many girls are also vulnerable to abuse, violence and harassment, both at home and at school, and after puberty many marry and become pregnant, so ending their education.

The aim of the project is to re-integrate these vulnerable girls into upper primary and lower secondary school by offering non-formal education through a wide range of subjects.

Martha [not her real name] is one such teenager being supported and says:" I came to this centre to acquire the practical skills taught here and also learn English. I completed primary seven hoping to continue with my education but became pregnant. The father of my child offers no support. It is my mother and I that work through agriculture to survive. After leaving, I plan to use what I have learned here as a stepping stone to what I want to become. I plan to pass on this knowledge and skills to my siblings and other people so they can be like me. My dream is to be a teacher."

More than 1,900 girls being educated in the centres will graduate after one or two terms and then return to some form of appropriate education. A further 2,300 girls will be impacted through teacher training and family mentoring, and the project will also establish educational working groups to share good practice.

Whilst the Ugandan government has invested in education, it accepts that it cannot provide for all children's needs and welcomes partnerships like this that can reach the most marginalised children with catch-up education.

Miriam Friday, Viva's network consultant for Uganda, says, "We are really excited by the way the first girls have responded to being in the centres. From hopelessness they are now confident and looking to the future. We hope this work will really demonstrate alternative ways of educating Uganda's children that will help them to become more independent."