Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world following the devastating dictatorships of Milton Obote and Idi Amin in the 1960s and 1970s. The disruption continued until 1986 when Yoweri Museveni took control of a distraught and bankrupt country. His government has restored peace but rebuilding Uganda's shattered infrastructure is proving a long and difficult task. In February 2011 Museveni was returned to power for 5 years. On the 22nd February 2011, The New Vision, Uganda’s leading website, wrote “Museveni’s education manifesto was the magic bullet to victory”.
After thirty years of instability the education system in Uganda had collapsed. The result is a largely illiterate population and poor academic standards.
Education not only provides basic literacy and numeracy, it gives a chance for children to lift themselves out of the poverty into which they were born. Education is the key to social and economic development. Educated children can access jobs so are not reliant upon unprofitable subsistence farming. Only through education can social problems such as AIDS, alcohol abuse, sexual inequality, and teenage marriages be tackled.
‘The only chance the children who attend my school have to lift themselves out of poverty is by getting an education’ - Robert Mukisa – head teacher Bupadhengo Secondary School.
We depart, or 'branch' as the Ugandans would say, from the towns and main roads into isolated rural areas. Around 85% of Uganda’s population live in rural areas, where the majority of the population live as subsistence farmers. Both poverty and educational standards are at their worst in these communities. We target our investment here so as to help the most vulnerable and needy children.
In 2000 the Ugandan government introduced free primary education, UPE. The result being the percentage of children attending primary school has risen from 35% to over 95% in less than a decade. The government pays teachers’ wages but then give schools only a few pounds per child per year to cover all other costs of educating these children. The result is that schools find it impossible to raise sufficient funds to build a classroom or purchase desks. Many children therefore have their lessons sitting on the ground under the shade of trees. This is the raison d’etre of The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund. With your help we can ensure these children have their lessons sitting at a desk in a classroom.
Free secondary education, USE, was introduced in 2006 for those children who obtain the equivalent of a grade C or above at the end of primary school. This has led to a 35% increase in the number of children attending secondary school. However a lack of government funding for building work means most schools lack the basic infrastructure necessary to educate the rising enrolment to a good standard. Although there has been a significant increase in the number of children attending secondary school, currently only 21% of children complete secondary education – Uganda desperately needs more affordable secondary schools.
In 2014, with your support, we can help the rural nursery, primary and secondary schools serving some of Uganda’s poorest communities with the structures they need to provide children with a basic education and have a chance to lift them out of the poverty they were born into.