Nearly two decades ago when the all-so-wonderful Government of Uganda was introducing Universal Primary Education (UPE) it seemed apparent that the days of illiteracy and a massive young unlearned population were coming to an end. The four-children-study-free project kicked off with a lot of gusto. Celebrations were held countrywide and it was generally agreed that this was absolute progress; steady at that.
A few rural parents were displeased and up in arms against it, complaining that their fields would now not have anyone to till them and they would not have little errand running minions to help them around the house.
Despite that, Ugandans embraced the initiative. Most of them did because the President and his people went around the country spreading the gospel of UPE and they all seemed rather well intentioned. It was a good time.
Several years down the road, it seems like the UPE dream has either been shattered or somewhat shoved into a certain dark and lonely alley being watched over by the devil. The Government seems to either have abandoned the whole idea or simply left it to rot. Surprisingly though, there is even the concept of Universal Secondary Education (USE) which deserves a whole rant of its own. The Government appears to have quietly thrown in the towel, knowing full well that the majority of Uganda’s population is young and requires some form of direction and guidance.
Before this is seen as another of those worthless yet venomous rants targeted at the Government’s inability to deliver, allow me express my own thankfulness to the Government for somewhat showing where its priorities are. For starters it seems like the Government will continue to throw money (if any at all) at the UPE issue without necessarily identifying where the problem is.
Despite nearly $302m that the Government spends annually on primary education, close to a whopping 70% of these youngsters are likely to somehow drop out along the way. Either because they can not afford the hidden costs involved with uniform and scholastic materials or because they are simply girls and having monthly periods while in school can be a real challenge, especially if there are no sanitary pads.
By Mercy Asianut,
Communications Intern, AMwA