“Teach me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand”
Chinese Proverb, date unknown
Following on from the highly successful P6 Pupils’ Project, which worked with primary schools across the Jinja district of Uganda for 10 years, Soft Power Education have launched their Learning and Education for All Programme “LEAP”, which focuses on three core ares – “bellies, bodies and brains”.
Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 48.1% of the population below the age of 15 (UN DESA 2017). It also has one of the world’s highest population growth rates (3.3%, UN 2015). The youth are the future of Uganda, but whilst the country boasts a 94% primary school enrolment rate (SOWC 2016), a 2014 study on out-of-school children by the Stromme Foundation showed that Uganda has one of the highest school dropout rates at primary level globally. Of every 100 pupils joining school, only 33 complete their studies.
The poor quality of education offered in many schools is noted as a major challenge and is often referred to as a ‘learning crisis’. Overcrowded classrooms, insufficient learning materials and absent teachers lead to large numbers of children repeating years or dropping out of school before mastering the basics.
The 2016 Annual Learning Assessment (ALA) report ‘Are our children learning?’ by Twaweza shows how, nationally, only 3 out of 10 pupils in P3-P7 can complete P2 work correctly. In P3 classes, 4 out of 10 children cannot read an English word nor a word in their local language. Indeed in P7, 2 out of 10 children cannot read a P2 English story.
Soft Power Education’s research identified hunger at school, lack of scholastic materials, menstruation, child abuse and poverty as factors hindering education. Pupils are hungry in the classroom and unable to concentrate. Pupils are unable to read to the required standard. Communities continue to rely on subsistence farming and are at the mercy of the rains.
LEAP aims to tackle some of the issues identified at government primary schools throughout the Jinja district and increase the learning potential of pupils to give them the tools to succeed and become valuable contributors to Ugandan society.
- Pupils will develop a self and inclusive environment that promotes gender equality and confidence;
- Pupils will learn and teach farming methods that reduce food insecurity;
- Pupils will develop soft skills that empower them to be self-sustaining individuals who can take responsibility for their own personal development.
LEAP will deliver bi-weekly 2 hour interactive sessions to 1,200 pupils at 12 government primary schools in the Jinja district of Uganda. The programme will target three core ares – “bellies, bodies and brains” through sessions focused on food security and skills & empowerment. Building on a solid foundation of more than 10 years of partnering with primary schools throughout the Jinja district on the P6 Pupils’ Project, Soft Power Education will work hand-in-hand with teachers, parents and the wider community to ensure the sustainability of the project and measurability of impact in the target communities.
In food security, pupils will design and implement a permaculture garden at their school to promote a reliable year-round food source and a varied, nutritious diet.
Skills & empowerment will focus on puberty, child protection, menstrual hygiene management (with a session on making sanitary pads) and the promotion of reading to enable pupils to actively participate in their education.