At the end of each year, students all over Uganda prepare to sit their exams as they look forward to their next stage of education. This is a time of mixed feelings as the majority of students are anxious about their exams and what the future holds.
Depending on the situation at their homes, some are not sure whether they will be able to return to school next term. In fact, only around 29 per cent of children complete secondary education (meaning that over 70 per cent of children do not finish secondary education). This is much lower than the 55.6 per cent of children that complete primary school.
Golda was sure that she would finish her O-level exams and start her A-levels the following year. But she did not expect her mother’s work to end, and this changed everything.
Golda grew up with her mother who looked after her and her siblings. Her father left when she was young, then re-married and had children with his next wife. Golda’s mother rented land on which she grew food crops to sell to schools and to keep for the family to eat.
The food sales made enough money to pay for her children’s fees and meet other basic needs. However, after some time, the landlord decided to use the land for other economic activities. This left Golda’s mother with no reliable source of income and so she resorted to casual work, which is far less dependable.
At the start of the A-level term, Golda could not return to school because her mother did not have enough money for her fees. She could not turn to her father, a mechanic, for help as he had not been supportive of the family after leaving. This meant that Golda had no choice but to stay at home while other children went to school.
When the Goshem Creative Learning Centre (CLC) mentors were looking for girls who would benefit from attending the CLC, they came across Golda and invited her to join. The centre is one of 20 CLC’s in Uganda, run by Viva’s partner network, CRANE.
The centres provide ‘catch-up learning’ for the girls in maths and English to allow them to re-enter mainstream schools as well as alternative income-generation training.
When the mentors explained how attending the CLC would benefit Golda, her mother agreed to allow her to join, hoping it would give her a better chance in life.
During her time at the centre, Golda has learnt many new skills like making crafts, bags and snacks. She loves reading the range of books in the library and makes the most of this in her free time. Her favourite activity though is the critical thinking exercise in maths.
The CLC has given Golda the opportunity to continue her education and develop new skills. Since she has a passion for working with children, she hopes to join an Early Childhood Development institute where she can train to be a nursery teacher.
By putting children in the centre, the CLC mentors are giving them the chance to continue to learn and grow at a time when they need it most.
As she wants to train as a nursery teacher, Golda has huge potential to share what she has learnt and pass on her positive experiences of support onto children in the future.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We want to see people all over the world pledging to focus on children.You could show your support by posting a photo of yourself on social media with the hashtag #ChildrenInTheCentre and pledging to do one small action to help keep children central in your life.
Here are some suggested pledges that you could make, but feel free to think of your own!
• I pledge to tell my child I love them every day.
• I pledge to listen and spend time with the child I care for.
• I pledge to value my child and recognise their individual qualities.
• I pledge to encourage learning and model the values I want my child to develop.
• I pledge to teach children responsibility and help them to resolve conflict.
You can find out the inspiration behind these pledges by reading this blog.