Helping children get out of stone quarries and back to school
In March 2020, all educational institutions in Uganda closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Over 15 million students were forced to stay home. This closure lasted for almost two years, with schools finally reopening in January 2022.
During this time, some learners became involved in illicit activity; others ended up getting pregnant or getting married. Some children and youth had to work to help their parents afford the necessities of life, given that most of the parents had lost their jobs.
In Bukerere and Kireka, where The Andtex Training and Care Organisation (TATCO Uganda) adopts local community schools, there are stone quarries, and the quarries became a hub to many of the children as they helped their parents quarry stones, sell stones, and find food for their survival. This became their daily activity because of the small amount of money they could earn from it.
TATCO Uganda was founded in 2010 and operates in the districts of Mukono, Buikwe, and Wakiso, with a focus on child development and education, youth skills and livelihood support, early childhood development, and care and support to those who are old or sick.
In Uganda, the population is dominated by youth and children, with about 70% of the population under the age of 30 and 18 million children of school-going age. There is high demand for our support to teach and guide these children to excel in school and develop livelihood skills.
Given this, TATCO Uganda started a campaign called #Let all children grow and be educated. With this program, we carry out activities that will enable children to study and love education. We create schools; offer scholarships based on financial need; provide scholastic materials; empower teachers and school administrators with better teaching and school management skills; talk to parents about the importance of children’s education, healthy parenting, and child development; and help children get back to school.
We have advanced our programs on children’s education with the help and support of our partners. We are happy and proud to be part of Global Fund for Children’s Partnership to Educate All Kids (PEAK) initiative, which is intended to help children who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic get back to and thrive in school. The partnership with GFC has enabled us to introduce a program called Learning through Play in schools, and it is having a tremendous impact on the children’s education.
We have developed Learning through Play modules; trained the teachers to integrate them while teaching; and provided materials and tools needed in the modules.
As we look ahead, we hope to adopt, create, and develop more local schools where we can enroll the increasing number of children who need our support. We also plan to create more programs to directly impact children and youth. The growing poverty of children in Uganda is alarming, and serious and quick intervention is needed to help this next generation of citizens to become educated and productive.
Changing parents’ mindsets regarding education and making education a common and affordable service provided by both the government and other stakeholders are two things that we champion. Proprietors of many educational institutions in Uganda see education solely as a business, and they charge a lot of money for school fees, leaving children from poor families out of school. TATCO Uganda is willing to take this on to make sure all children get an education.
As we say at TATCO Uganda, with education and skills development, the sky is the limit.