Three percent. That's it. Only three percent of youth from Lango Sub-region obtain university education. And that stands in the way
of getting good jobs and imagining a new future without war. Why?
1. Illness. During the war, people fled from neighboring villages
and were housed in refugee camps known as Internally Displaced Peoples' camps. Despair, trauma, poverty, and idleness led to risky
behavior, including the transmission of HIV/AIDS. The youth in Lira have contracted HIV/AIDS at a rate of 11.9%,
almost twice the national average of 6.2%, HIV/AIDS drugs must be taken with food, which many children have limited access too. The
children must wake up before sunrise, gather greens for themselves and their siblings to eat, walk long distances (often barefoot)
to school where they are in crowded classrooms all day, often without lunch.
2. War. Schools were burned, teachers displaced, and some
teachers even targeted and killed.
3. Child labor. Many parents died leaving behind large families. Households cannot provide for
the basic needs of their children. Children work to survive. Hard labor is most common among those between 11 – 14 years (67%) and
unfortunately, even those below 10 years have experienced the same. When children are made to work they miss going to
school. Child-led households, e.g. 8 year-olds taking care of 6 year-old siblings, exist in too high a proportion in this area.
Only three percent of Lira area students go onto university. Few females graduate. CCYA works to empower kids to change this reality.
- The Ugandan government pays for public school teachers, where 1:100 teacher student ratios are considered acceptable!
And a school needs more than just a few teachers. Children are assessed a modest fee of about $5 per semester. Many children cannot
afford this fee.
- School buildings are often uninhabitable (see the picture below) and overcrowded.
- We seek out the the most
vulnerable children to partner with in their education. We support partners with scholastic materials, fees, and basic materials
(including flip flops; our partners live in the bush and jungle and have no shoes). At present we support 45 children but the
need is far greater.
- Female students often drop out due to lack of privacy and sanitary materials. Female students are teased,
bullied and embarrassed especially around the issue of their changing bodies. We provide female partners with sanitary materials
and advocate for them so they can go to school like everyone else. What would you do if this were you or your sister? You would
act! We feel the same way!
- We make routine visits to check on our partners, speaking with their teachers, principals, and checking
their notebooks for completed assignments. These encouraging talks foster community care for the kids.
- We pay for additional
student support for our vulnerable partners by selling tree seedlings.
School house in Lango subregion, December 2010. Photo by CCYA staff. The wood frame and straw roof is difficult to study in under
any condition, including for those with illness and disability. This structure is even more difficult to use in the rainy season.