Some 750 pupils who had either never been to or dropped out of school have enrolled (back) into primary education at selected schools within the Kalaki district in Eastern Uganda.
Children aged between 9 to 14 years are currently learning under the Speed School program, an initiative of Geneva Global Uganda, which aims at helping all children attain formal education. The program delivers the first three years of primary education within nine months after which the learners are promoted straight to P4 for normal learning.
Beneficiaries of the program are provided with scholastic materials such as books, pens, textbooks, and sanitary pads for girls while the implementing schools receive desks, tables, and chairs.
Vicky Adoch, the Acting Senior Inspector of Schools is positive that the program has helped to reduce the number of school dropouts in the district where most children preferred fishing as an economic activity to studying.
“Because their traumatized parents cannot provide psychosocial support, the children end up dropping out of school as a result of lack of guidance from their own parents however much the district struggles to have all children at school,” Adoch explains.
Parents whose children are beneficiaries of this program are excited that their children have a second chance to attain formal education. In support, they have taken it upon themselves to construct independent classrooms to accommodate these learners. And, they want it enrolled in all the schools across the district.
However, Christopher Okumu, the Chief Administrative Officer urged the stakeholders to work around controlling school dropout among children, saying the district has the capacity to fight the vice without relying on development partners.
Meanwhile Rebecca Ecwou, the Geneva Global Uganda Country Director believes that with enough funding, the program will be implemented beyond the current 75 schools.
She however urged school administrators and facilitators to ensure that the children enrolled are those eligible for the program saying some parents are taking the advantage of the program to enroll young children so that they get free scholastic materials.
“This program is meant to be a catch-up program for the older children but now you can see a child as young as five years old in this class. Dear facilitators, it is a humble request that you use your ability to discern which kind of child is in this class because we do not want to be labeled as saboteurs of UPE,” she said.
The Speed School program formerly known as the Northern Uganda Education Fund started in 2016 covering all districts in the Acholi sub-region except Amuru, and other districts in the Lango sub-regions. However, it is now introduced to Kalaki, Amuria, Mayuge, and Namutumba in Eastern Uganda.
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