As vaccination rates remain relatively low and restrictions remain in place, Uganda continues to struggle with the presence of the coronavirus. The future of the education of Ugandan children is a primary concern due to the intense restrictions still in place within the region.
The majority of schools in Uganda have been entirely closed for the last 18 months and most students are not receiving supplemental educational materials. According to the Daily Monitor, a local news source in Uganda, only around 20% of families have received supplemental learning materials distributed by the government (Bargiba, 2021). The likelihood of the reopening of most public schools appears bleak.
In an address to the nation in July, President Museveni stated, "schools will remain closed until sufficient vaccination of the eligible population and children aged 12-18 years old has taken shape.” Uganda’s vaccinations remain low, as experts estimate only about 1.5% of Ugandans are fully vaccinated.
Many disagree with the President’s school reopening strategy as the vaccine rollout in the region remains as an obstacle. Expert Dr. Nakabugo stated in response to President Museveni’s address to the nation, “You are talking about loss of a generation, loss of a future of the country,” says Dr Nakabugo. “We are losing a generation if nothing is done immediately. We are looking at a crisis, and it has to be acted on now”. While online schooling is an option for some, it is not a sufficient resolution to the problem as many in Uganda do not have access to electricity, a report in 2018 declared only 43% of Ugandans had access to electricity. Unfortunately, we are already witnessing the consequences of lack of education for the children of Uganda.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the lack of education as well as lack of government assistance in Uganda has put children at risk of exploitative child labor. Families feeling the economic pressure due to COVID-19 have been placed in a position to send their children to work as well. Most of the labor for children is little pay and harsh working conditions. The programs director at Initiative for Social and Economic Rights Angella Nabwowe stated, “the government should immediately get children out of precarious labor situations and increase cash assistance to families to prevent further increases in poverty and child labor.”
ASA continues to offer the support necessary to vulnerable groups within the region. If you want to help, click the link below to learn more about ASA and how to donate.