Why Volunteer with SPE?

SPE?

Soft Power Education is a completely non-profit organisation. We continue to strive to ensure that our overheads are as low as possible, and that as much of the donations that we receive as possible are spent on our programmes here on the ground in Uganda.

We have no offices or employees outside of Uganda, and minimum marketing and fundraising costs.

We don’t use any middle men or challenge companies disguising themselves as charities. Amongst a plethora of expensive, profit-driven volunteering companies, we offer incredible value for money for all volunteers taking part in our programmes. With almost 20 years experience working on the ground here in Uganda, we implement all of our programmes as cost-effectively as possible. Your donation remains completely separate from any personal expenses, allowing for exceptional transparency in terms of where your money is being spent.

Volunteer?

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”

Margaret Mead.

Volunteering is the most direct way that you can get involved in instigating positive change in the world, and play a small part in reducing much larger social ills. As a volunteer with Soft Power Education, this involves small scale volunteer projects that are people-centred, community-led and pursue spreading benefits to host communities and the surrounding cultural and social environments.

NGOs like SPE have been identified as the best facilitators of successful linkages between volunteer tourists and local communities. They are a mainstay of development work around the world and, in contrast to traditional tourism operators, are best suited for mixing human development of host communities with the personal development of volunteers.

Cultural exchange – instigating better understanding and compassion between cultures;

Personal growth – gain a greater understanding of yourself and others;

Help share a realistic portrayal of Uganda and Africa;

Direct economic benefits for areas that would not normally benefit from tourism, and employment of local staff.

Education?

Soft Power Education was founded with the aim of contributing towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 2: to achieve universal primary education. Today, we are working towards Sustainable Development Goal 4: to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela.

In our world, knowledge is power, and education empowers. It is an indispensable part of the development equaion and has intrinsic value – extending far beyond the economic – to empower people to determine their own destiny. That is why the opportunity to be education is advancing human development.

There is also another critical dimension to education: its role in promoting peace, tolerance, understanding and friendship. Education has the power to build positive attitudes and behaviours which bring people together. The converse is also true, – a curriculum imbued with bias, prejudice and misrepresentation of the ‘other’ will exacerbate tensions and reinforce divisions.

Soft Power Education - Building Education Project

School Infrastructure?

At the time of SPE’s establishment, Uganda was just a few years into the implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE). The brainchild of President Museveni, UPE was a nation-wide policy to provide free primary school education for all children. In record time, numbers in government schools soared – from 3.1 million pupils in 1997, to 7.6 million pupils by 2006.

In 2006, 85% of children between 6 and 12 years old were in school. These numbers were evenly spread between boys and girls, and Uganda was highly commended for achieving over 90% of MDG2.

 

Despite this, UPE was facing a number of challenges. Already limited learning environments became even more insufficient, and there was an inadequate number of teachers and resources to meet the demands of the increase in enrolment. Although school itself was free, many parents could not afford scholastic materials. Initial success in enrolment fell apart amid a ver high number of dropouts, with UNESCO estimating that 68% of children in P1 would drop out before finishing the prescribed seven years of primary school. Literacy and numeracy levels failed to increase of time and classroom conditions (in terms of overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation, and teaching quality) were poor.

Our School Infrastructure Programme works to create safe, creative and inspiring learning environments, with the aim of improving attendance, lowering drop out rates and raising performance levels. With the support of volunteers, we implement a combination of renovation of existing classroom blocks (including carrying out repairs and painting) and the construction of new classroom blocks at government primary schools. We also build pit latrines, and teachers’ houses and kitchens. Providing this infrastructure also frees up government spending for other areas, such as health.

Since 1999, we have expanded into a variety of other programmes in the areas of Alternative Education and Livelihoods, all of which have education at their core and focus on equipping people with the knowledge and skill to improve their own quality of life. All of our programmes are needs based and reach the heart of the communities we work with.

Ethics

As an organisation, we take ethics very seriously and continue to strive to ensure our volunteers have a positive impact within the communities that they live in and work alongside.

First and foremost, we have a strict child protection policy and code of conduct on images and messages. All volunteers are required to sign these documents before volunteering with us. As a volunteers, you will be bound by the terms in these documents and obliged to uphold them.

We work hard to ensure that host communities are prepared for the arrival of volunteers, and that volunteers have considered local laws and customs, appropriate clothing and gift giving etc. Once you have signed up to volunteer with us, you will receive a tailored pre-departure pack and a copy of our Volunteers and Development handbook which discuss these topics further.

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