In the summer of 2010, Outreach Uganda began a special initiative to help girls in our northernmost Agwata location to stay in school beyond the primary level. We noticed in our work at the Agwata school and in our sponsorship program, that in these very rural areas, girls began to drop out of school earlier than boys beginning even in the mid-primary levels. Very few continued their education beyond P-7. We are determined to change that statistic. Below is a photo of the 19 girls that was taken in mid-2011 along with our Project Manager for the north, Beatrice.
In mid-2010, we identified a total of 19 girls who were in P-5 to P-7 and began to track their progress, offer encouragement to them, and to provide some supplemental forms of assistance that would encourage them in their school efforts. We also began to talk with both their parents and the community about what they wanted for these girls.
As a result of those efforts we began hold formal meetings with the girls (and sometimes parents) 3 to 4 times per year, and we are also including them in our Character Building training. We provided a means for the girls to access sanitary materials and selected other school-related items. We promised them that if they achieved in school in the P-5 to P-7 levels, then we would find sponsors for each of them to continue either in secondary school or vocational training beyond the P-7 level. We also began working on longer term community-wide endeavors such as increased water well access to reduce the time spent carrying water, and introducing Nursery School for younger children which might encourage families to allow the older girls to be attending school regularly.
For 2012, we are happy to report that our efforts are producing encouraging results so far. Only 1 of the original 19 girls has dropped out of school (due to pregnancy). Even this girl and her parents are adamantly stating that she will return to school in the 2013 school year.
The 3 remaining girls that completed primary school in 2011 are all enrolled in a boarding secondary school for girls. They are receiving some additional tutoring during the school year. We expect that they will all be promoted to S-2 next year. In addition, we have had approximately 25 new girls join the P-5 level this year and so we also began working with them. This represents a substantial jump in the number of girls in P-5 and so we are also encouraged by this statistic.