As we commemorate this year’s International Day of the African Child, on 16th of June, we want to focus on the great importance of child and youth development. Indeed, the young generations in every country define the future of its society and economy. According to UNFPA Uganda, 77% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 25 years and over seven million of them are aged between 15-24 years. These numbers are expected to increase, so there is more need than ever to take advantage of this demographic dividend. Utilizing the intelligence of this young population may lead the country to its desired pathways.
This year’s theme is “Eliminating Harmful Practices affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013”. Such practices like child labour, defilement and rape, denial of education and food as well as other forms of mistreatment affect children in different ways and have contributed to big numbers of school drop outs.
Since denying a child the right to education is one of the harmful practices, ensuring access to proper education is key in making this pathway a successful one. The average primary school dropout rate in Uganda is at around 45%, according to the Huracan Foundation from 2020. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the country in 2020, this number has risen even higher. Without the opportunity to learn, children can’t develop to their full potential.
Reach Out Mbuya Community Health Initiative (ROM) recognized the important role the young population plays in Uganda and through her programs such as the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), the organization aims to give them a brighter future. Here, ROM sponsors children in schools at different levels by contributing to school fees, scholastic materials, nutritional support and psychosocial interventions.
In addition, ROM empowers the youth through economic strengthening and life skilling. Given that majority of the youthful population are employed in subsistence farming and those who graduate lack skills, there is need to keep children in school and work hard in revolutionizing education systems if we are to make a change.
So, let us work together to fight violation of children’s rights in Uganda. Education injustice in Uganda is not for us if we have big dreams for our future generation.
By Antonia Pohl, Volunteer at Reach Out Mbuya.