This International Day of Education, we at All We Can are thankful that after 83 weeks, schools in Uganda have reopened their doors to students. Classrooms in Uganda were emptied of pupils back in March 2020 due to the increasing rates of Covid-19 and nearly two years on, this shutdown has become the world’s longest school closure.
During the almost two years that schools in Uganda have been closed, All We Can’s local partners have seen the enormous impacts the closures have had on communities. This has been particularly notable as Uganda has a large young population, most of whom are relying on school. Since the school closures, All We Can’s local partners have seen increases in teen pregnancy, increases in rates of early marriage, decreasing income and access to necessities, and permanent dropouts. Both teen pregnancy and early marriage present particular difficulties to girls in Uganda as they won’t necessarily be going back to school now schools have opened. With regards to teen pregnancy, due to stigma and discrimination from religious and community leaders, many teenage mothers won’t return to school despite the Ugandan government’s call for them to be allowed to return. Similarly, since the closure of schools rendered girls a potential burden to their caregivers, many were married off as a source of easy and quick income to their families. These girls, now wives, are unlikely to be heading back into school to finish their education.
All We Can believes that education is vitally important as it can help young people to unleash their potential, open up opportunities, and enable them to embrace life in all of its fullness. This is particularly pertinent as education is considered to be a powerful tool for growth throughout many sectors in Uganda. Education is viewed as a key component for driving social growth, economic development, and transformation with society. It is imperative that the thousands of young people in Uganda who have gone without school for so long aren’t disadvantaged further.
All We Can’s local partners have spent time during the last two years working closely with some of the young people who were impacted by school closures. During this time, COFACWE, one of All We Can’s local partners in Uganda, has worked to increase access to Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and, in particular, youth-friendly SRH services.
This International Day of Education, we ask you to join us in prayer for the young people of Uganda, for those who have gone back to school, and especially for those who haven’t. We hope that with the help of our local partners, we can ensure that more young people have the opportunity to unleash their potential.