Let's do the Maths...... there's a crisis out there.
Elspeth Dugdale | September 30, 2017
How many pupils are/were in your child's class at primary school? About 20? About 30? Imagine if you knew that only 6/20 or 9/30 of your child's class would make it through...?
It is probably fair to assume that most/all of our children go all the way through to Year 6 and then onto secondary school. However, if you are a parent in Uganda, you face this shocking reality that 70% of children in the country do not make it through primary school. If you have money and if you live in Kampala, the odds are hugely stacked in your favour. If you live in an urban area, it could be slightly better.
Rural children from lower income families are almost always at the 'bottom of the pile' when it comes to education. Girls and disabled children are at the very bottom of the pile. So if you have a daughter, the situation gets worse. If your daughter is disabled, it's far worse - many parents don't bother with school.
As we have written many times before, 30% of girls drop out of school once they reach puberty - either because they lack sanitary pads or, in a rural area, may be forced into early marriage. Despite the claim of Universal (Free) Primary Education, the reality is very bleak.
Lack of teachers, lack of good training, unpaid teacher's salaries and a pitiful education budget also indicate a crisis in teaching. So the future for Uganda looks pretty bleak as well....
And that is where The Bridge is extremely good news! It stands in the community as a resource for all local primary children and teachers to use as much as they like! But how is it helping the crisis in Ugandan rural education?
Here are just a few great reasons:
- Providing English and Maths lessons to help local children make it through primary school
- Providing a library to get children reading at an early age, as children don't read for pleasure
- Providing a positive learning space to encourage and enthuse children in education
- Providing teacher training to encourage, develop and enthuse local primary teachers
- Providing support and encouragement to keep girls in school and to support disabled children
In Gulu at the new Bridge**, we will be teaming up with good friends at READ for Life, Uganda: https://www.readforlifeug.org who are making amazing progress in teaching teachers to teach reading to get kids reading and writing..... yes, there is lots of teaching going on there....
As it is a much bigger site and has much bigger building, there is a greater opportunity to offer a more extended programme of classes and to support teachers in 57 primary schools in the area. Each school has 500 - 1000 children. If you do the Maths, you can imagine what a 70% dropout rate could be? The Bridge** in Gulu will help to reduce the dropout rate and increase the numbers of children that can read, write and make it to secondary school.
When you make through secondary school in Uganda, the effect can be life-changing. Completing secondary school provides a child with a realistic possibility to escape poverty, as they can access far more employment and training opportunities. Statistically they will also be healthier, more stable and more resilient and have healthier children themselves. And for those that just scrape through primary school, their job and life chances are practically the same as for those who don't go to school at all. Sobering thoughts.
Of course we all would want our child to be in the 3/10 that make it through primary school........
As a concept and as a working project, The Bridge has been and continues to be surprisingly good news in an otherwise rather bleak educational landscape.
**Bridge. For reasons too complicated to explain here, sadly we have decided we will have to change the name of the Primary Resource centre in Gulu. And it won't be 'A Bridge Too Far'. New name to be announced next month!