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Africa’s Orphaned and vulnerable generation.

The AIDS epidemic in Tropical Africa, if not the entire continent makes children vulnerable, leaves them orphaned and threatens their survival. In the most affected countries in this region, children are missing out on what they need for survival, growth and development, and progress on key national development goals is being jeopardized. The Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the commitments made by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on HIV/AIDS in 2001 and on Children in 2002, and at the 2006 High-Level Meeting on AIDS, set the parameters for addressing the impact of the AIDS epidemic on children. The global campaign  Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS, launched in October 2005, called for the protection of orphans and vulnerable children as one of four priority action areas.

However, despite of all the above, children are still directly affected in a number of ways especially those in Africa. They may live at high risk of HIV; they may live with chronically ill parents or adults and be required to work or put their education on hold as they take on household and caregiving responsibilities; their households may experience greater poverty because of the disease; and they may be subject to stigma and discrimination because of their association with a person living with HIV. Children can also become orphans, on losing one or both of the parents.

The number of newly orphaned children, or orphan incidence, reflects the magnitude and current impact of the crisis. While orphan prevalence estimates include all children ages 0–17 who have lost one or both parents over their lifetime, incidence reflects only those who have lost a parent during the past year. Each year, some orphans turn 18 and are no longer counted as orphans. At the same time, a new cohort of children ages 0–17 loses one or both parents. When the number of new orphans is fewer than the number turning 18, the number of orphans will decline.

The age distribution of orphans is fairly consistent across countries. The proportion of children who are orphans and the number of double orphans increases with age. Almost half of all orphans and two thirds of double orphans are adolescents ages 12–17.

The age of orphans and their age when they were orphaned have significant implications for planning a response that meets children’s needs at varying developmental Older orphans may be at risk of missing out on education, being subject to exploitative labour, and being exposed to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The youngest orphans – although making up a smaller percentage of all orphans (16 per cent) – are the least resilient and have the greatest need for physical care and nurturing.

Given the lag time between infection and death, the number of orphans may continue to grow or at least remain high for years, even where infection rates stabilize or begin to decline. A significant increase in the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment could potentially reduce orphaning, although even with an extensive scaling up of antiretroviral treatment life expectancy will be lower than in an adult population unaffected by AIDS. And, as a result of earlier adult death, orphaning may continue to be higher. Projections indicate that, even if a full package of interventions is put in place (including treatment and prophylaxis, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and primary prevention activities), the number of orphans would remain high for the next several years. Orphaning levels may also be impacted if reproductive health services are weak or unavailable. This puts alot of questions on the table about how Orphanhood can be addressed in Africa. We are in deep trouble. 

Early childbearing in our community.

In Uganda this week, the country was shocked after a girl believed to be 15years old gave birth as she was doing her Ordinary Level National Exams! She was rushed in the nearby hospital to give birth as her colleagues continued with their Chemistry exam. We were told that after giving birth, she went back for the afternoon exams.

What happened can only be understood in a sense that it represents a larger problem, a national problem. We as people who operate on the grass roots, we have come across various community problems, like unemployment, drug abuse, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS concern etc, but the issue of teenage mothers and early marriages are really serious issues in our community today. The majority of children attending school are engaged in early sexual activities before age. Three out of four mothers start child-bearing during their adolescence.  

Early childbearing and motherhood, which usually accompanies early marriages, also is equally associated with lower levels of education and higher rates of poverty. Girls who are already in school are often forced to terminate their education when they marry early.

Early marriages stand in direct conflict with the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are now SDGs. They threaten the achievement of the first six goals respectively, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primarily education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases.

The incidence of child marriages in our area is high, despite the fact that Uganda has signed and ratified a number of international and regional legal instruments relating to the protection of children’s rights. These include the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (PACHPRRWA), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Limited mobility, household responsibilities, pregnancy and raising children, and other social restrictions for married girls prevent them from taking advantage of education or work. In this regard, opportunities for young mothers to continue with their education or to work often are limited because they have little access to resources, and are responsible for childrearing and household tasks.

In Uganda, many girl children attend schools; some are forced to drop out because they get married early. As a result, these young girls cannot take advantage of economic opportunities including those stemming from development assistance programs and their health also is at risk because of early sexual activity and childbearing. In addition they have little or no access to quality health care services. Indeed, many child brides also experience domestic violence from spouses and their relatives.

Young girls who get married will most likely be forced into having sexual intercourse with their, usually much older, husbands. This has severe negative health consequences as the girl is often not psychologically, physically and sexually mature. Early marriage is associated with early child bearing. Young married girls are under tremendous pressure to prove their fertility in the first year of marriage. Girls, who marry young, inevitably have children early, and have many children, because their knowledge of contraception is poor and their power to negotiate its use is weak.

Many interrelated factors almost similar worldwide with small variations between societies that interact to place a girl child at risk of early marriage.

Those factors include among others, search for economic survival, protection of young girls, peer group and family pressure. In our area, the practice of early marriages contributes to a series of negative consequences both for young girls and the society in which they live. It is a violation of human rights in general and of girl’s rights in particular. For both girls and boys, early marriages have profound economic, psychological and emotional and social impacts.

Conclusively, Oyedepo (1994) posits that one highly fruitful but not yet fully tapped strategy is to use girls’ education as a mechanism for reducing child marriage. I strongly agree! Enabling all girls to have primary education would reduce child marriage rates by a sixth. For each additional year that a girl delays marriage, her likelihood of being literate increases by 5.6 percent and the prospect of her secondary school completion rises by 6.5 percent. 

Our only prayer is that parents come to value education for their children, and to be willing to postpone the marriages of their daughters so they can attain a higher education level. Education enhances girls’ autonomy, giving them negotiation skills in choosing a partner and influencing the timing of marriage; Education also is believed to increase girls’ aspirations and extend the process of finding a suitable marriage partner. 

Our communities seem to know very little about the consequences of child marriages; it is because of lower educational level. Some people do not value education as it does not repay the investment instantly – it is a long-term investment that is considered more risky in the case of girls, as they can get pregnant and be excluded from school at any time.

All girls, married or unmarried, are entitled to human rights and have immense potential.

All girls are created equal, but do not enjoy equal opportunities. Child marriages can lead to life-threatening health consequences. Early marriages contribute to a series of negative consequences both for young girls and the society in which they live. Besides having a negative impact on girls themselves, the practice of early marriage also has negative consequences on their children, families, and society as a whole.

Education in Africa: the need of informal and non formal education. 

by Kajubi Daniel, CHRAD UGANDA

Education has been defined differently by different people. I draw inspiration from various sources to conceptualize education as the process of imparting and acquiring knowledge, skills and attitude through various forms of teaching and learning with a view to preparing individuals to be responsible citizens (Jackson, n.d.).

Uganda has taken considerable strides in the provision of both formal and non-formal education (Ngaka, 2005). The formal education system in Uganda falls under the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and it encompasses primary, secondary and tertiary education. The foundation for both types of education was laid by the Islamic and Christian Missionaries and later built upon by colonial and post-colonial administrations.

In an effort to contribute towards meeting some of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Uganda adopted Universal Primary Education (UPE) which greatly boosted formal primary education, followed by a surge in the numbers of school going age children enrolled in its primary schools (Ndeezi, 2000; Etonu, 2003). 

The successful implementation of the UPE was followed by the introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE) in 2007 (UNDP, 2007) which has also seen very many children accessing secondary education. However, it is increasingly recognized that school alone cannot provide quality basic education for ‘all’. The global progress made towards Education for All (EFA) since the World Education Forum in 2000 has arguably been significant, particularly with regard to enrolment and gender parity at primary level. By 2011, at least 69 million young adolescents were not attending primary or secondary school, due to the multiple and often inter-connected disadvantages they face, such as poverty, rural location, gender bias, disability and social discrimination. Moreover, the current structure of formal education in many countries is in itself excludes specific groups of children. To uphold the right to education of those who are not enrolled in schools, diverse forms of provision through different learning pathways are required.

Rogers (2004) argues that there is now a significant renewal of interest in non-formal education globally. This is evident in discussions on formal versus non formal education and community schools by Hoppers (2005; 2008) and the statement that came out from the Council of Europe. It states that:

….formal educational systems alone cannot respond to the challenges of modern society and therefore welcomes its reinforcement by non-formal educational practices. The Assembly recommends that governments and appropriate authorities of member states recognize non-formal education as a de facto partner in the lifelong process and make it accessible for all (Council of Europe, 2000, in Kamil, 2007, p. 2).

Non-formal education is one such pathway. Characterized by a high degree of flexibility and openness to change and innovation in its organisation, pedagogy and delivery modes, non-formal education caters to diverse and context-specific learning needs of children, young people and adults worldwide. It thereby involves a wide range of stakeholders, including educational establishments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and public institutions (UNICEF/UIS, 2014). Non-formal education has been evolved over past decades and regained currency in recent years in light of changing educational and developmental landscapes (Hoppers, 2006, 2007b; Rose, 2009).

In Uganda, the implementation of both UPE and USE programmes were preceded by the implementation of non-formal educational intervention called the Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) Programme in 1992 under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) which took responsibility for provision and overseeing activities of adult literacy education programmes in the country. The efforts of MoGLSD in adult literacy education provision are complemented by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

However, despite such significant efforts by government, CSOs, FBOs and CBOs, the provision of formal and non-formal educational programmes have taken a parallel trend with minimal integration and no systematic mechanism to equate and document learning that occurs outside the formal school system, hence making people despise non-formal education.

The various interventions that have been going on at our NGO, we have reached entail practical issues, not merely theoretical knowledge as is often the case in formal school education but practical knowledge like farming, brick laying and building and music and sewing and tailoring.

We believe that if learning in formal and non-formal environment could be embedded in such practice based contexts where the acquired skills are immediately applied in real life situations, it would improve the measurable learning outcomes from education but unfortunately, the education system curriculum in Uganda cannot cater for that.

  • If we are to embrace the totality of all forms of education under what Rogers (2004) refers to as the ‘rubric of lifelong education’, the discourse of lifelong learning needs to speak of all forms of education-‘formal,’ ‘non-formal,’ and even ‘informal’ learning of which all in the Ugandan context are not effective. This is important because lifelong learning/education helps to advance the promotion of economic growth and enhancement of active citizenship among the people.

Greetings from the other side of the world, Africa!

We are new here, and want to get as many followers​ as possible, we know you can help us get some people to follow our activities here.

But its important to first know who we are, right?.. Yea, i guess so 🙂
CHRAD is Children’s Hope Restoration and Development. It’s an NGO located in Mpigi District, Uganda. This the story of our NGO, so far, I can say that its only recently that we are an NGO, But we have been working with children and teenage mothers for about 5 years. Everything came out of pity we had, seeing young children suffering, many not going to school due to many reasons like poverty, discrimination and poor attitudes of their parents towards education. Girls have not been given equal chances to attend school and most of them in the rural areas, drop out of school before Primary Seven, those that remain in school past Primary seven normally drop out of school before finishing high school either pregnant or forced to marriage by their parents. We started in Mpigi district, by paying regular visits to children, their homes, their schools and discussions about their concerns and challenges met as children in rural areas (the research dissertations about performance of Universal Primary Education; The knowledge, practice and attitude of parents towards formal and non-formal education in Uganda, will be available soon) and that’s how we got to know about the real problems of the area. We started work with children who are orphaned, and those with parents, but couldn’t meet their basic needs by giving them school fees, clothing, food and shelter. We later discovered that formal education alone could not put things in order soon because the we thought the knowledge got from formal education cannot be put in practice fast enough to bring change. On adding other forms of education, like sewing and tailoring, brick laying and computer skills, more members of the community approached us to include them too in the project, and that’s when we added teenage mothers and the community youth to equip them with skills at no cost at all. Today we have 17 children that we take full care out, while 27 others members including teenage mothers, community youth come every day and take part in tailoring, brick making and computer training. For more, contact danielkajubi1993@gmail.com