ChildFund Uganda Country Program has disbursed over Shs100 million to nine local partners to support over 29,000 children in accessing reading and learning materials.
The nine implementing partners spread across 28 districts are working with the RDCS, CAOs, DEOs, and other local authorities to ensure that children receive the learning materials released by the Ministry of Education and Sports. This is in addition to sensitizing communities and families to ensure that children are given time and space to read and revise while at home.
With the continued closure of schools, children from vulnerable families are struggling to cope under the circumstances. For most, education and any form of learning have come to an abrupt stop as they spend their days supporting the family labour in gardens and other household activities.
Noeline, a senior three student from Masodde Community in Kyankwanzi district, says despite the government disbursing reading and learning materials to all sub counties country wide, they were not enough for each family to receive copies.
Photocopying the reading materials for Noeline and her four siblings at the local Printery near their home would cost over Shs40,000 which her family could not afford. Consequently, the family decided to photocopy only her learning materials and for her brother in senior four.
She added that some of her siblings often go to the neighbors with Televisions to study which increases risks of sexual abuse especially for the girl child.
“I am not happy that my siblings cannot get the learning materials like I did but I have to accept the situation since my parents do not have enough money to get materials for all of us” Noeline said
Similarly, 16-year-old Alindah in senior four was the only one to get some of the reading materials photocopied out of all her five siblings.
Given the high cost of photocopying the learning materials, most parents in the Massodde community prioritized securing materials for children in the final years only. Noeline says this has brought about discrimination in homes leading to fights and bickering amongst children.
ChildFund Uganda’s Education and Early Learning specialist Lukiya Kibone says that distribution of reading materials to children will lessen the pressure and burden of demands on parents and caregivers struggling to care for their families amidst the shutdown of major income streams like petty trading.
She appeals to parents/ caregivers to support and protect children during this period, avail space and time for children to read and be aware that the most offenders of children’s rights are people close to them. “Children should not be left at home unsupervised because it puts them at a higher risk of being abused,’’ Lukiya says.
ChildFund continues to monitor the situation and will provide additional support as the situation evolves.
In addition to national partners, ChildFund will continue to work closely with the nine local implementing partners: Acholi Child and Family Program in Gulu, Masindi Child Development Federation in Masindi, Lango Child and Community Development Federation in Lango, Community Efforts for Child Empowerment in Kyankwanzi, Kampala Area Federation of Communities in Kampala, Jinja Area Communities Federation in Jinja, Partners for Children Worldwide in Soroti, Mbale Area Federation of Communities in Mbale and Busia Area Communities Federation in Busia.