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Inaction by government fueling exploitation and inequity in education in Uganda

By Angela Nabwowe Kasule, ISER, Uganda

There are glaring barriers to continuity of education for vulnerable children impacted by COVID-19 in Uganda. The Uganda National Planning Authority in a report about the safe opening of the education sector projected that over 30% of learners may never return to school due to teenage pregnancies, early marriages, and child labour. In as much as these issues are documented, and authorities at both national and local government levels are aware of them, there is no evidence that concrete steps are being taken to address them.

High cost of education

When schools opened in January 2022, after almost two years of closure, media was awash with stories of exorbitant school charges and how parents were struggling to find money to take their children back to school. In Uganda, it is now normal that families have to borrow to pay for basic education. This worsened following the economic downturn as a result of the pandemic.

The 2021/22 Global Education Monitoring Report showed that 30% of families in Uganda have to borrow to afford their children’s education. Uganda’s National Planning Authority in a 2020 policy brief found that public education spending has barely kept pace with the growth in the school-age population hence the increased burden on households. The household share in total education expenditure increased from 53% a decade ago to 69%. Spending on education by the poorest 20% of households grew by 11% over the last 15 years.

While many families moved their children from private to public schools as a cost-saving measure, some are unable to afford non-tuition fees even in those schools. It is also true and very painful that government-aided schools that receive state funds charge the same fees as private for-profit schools, ranging from 1 to 3 million Ugandan shillings ($286–$858), while the median monthly earnings for an employed person are 200,000 Ugandan shillings ($57). The Uganda National Household Survey 2019/2020 report found that the main reason for six in every ten persons who had left school was the costs associated with education.

Child labour and return to school

The lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus negatively impacted livelihoods and jobs. ‘I Must Work to Eat’, Child Labor in Ghana, Nepal and Uganda, a joint research report published by Human Rights Watch, ISER and Friends of the Nation Ghana, documents how mass school closures and unprecedented loss of jobs and income forced many children to enter the workforce to help families survive. The engagement in economic activity increased the opportunity cost of returning to school of boys in particular. In the island communities of Namayingo District in Eastern Uganda, only 359 of the 777 learners returned to Butanira Primary School when schools reopened. At Nkokonjeru UMEA Primary School located in Buikwe District on the shores of Lake Victoria, only 219 of the 410 learners returned. In both districts, school administrators told ISER’s community advocates that children are engaged in fishing activities on Lake Victoria.

Influx of learners from private to public schools

Despite the inadequacies with the public system, which as the 2021/2 GEM Report showed can also be found in other countries, there has been an influx of learners from private to public schools mainly due to high cost and closure of private schools. This influx has put a stress on the already inadequate infrastructure; there is overcrowding and social distancing is not possible. At Kifuyo Secondary School in Namayingo District located in Eastern Uganda, the enrollment went up from 680 learners to 1,100.

Some private schools, in particular low-cost private schools, did not open in January 2022 because they were sold off and turned into merchandise shops while others were converted into rental houses. The National Planning Authority estimated that 3,507 primary schools and 832 secondary schools were likely to close due to financial distress. A case in point is the Bridge Schools in Uganda, commonly known as Bridge International Academies, that closed shop. A Bridge School in Kinoni, Lwego District in Central Uganda, was turned into a chicken house but was later demolished because it was on rented land.

The case of pregnant girls

Many girls got pregnant while others were forced into early marriage as a result of the prolonged school closure. A UNFPA report on addressing  teenage pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that  a total of 354,736 teenage pregnancies were registered in 2020, and 196,499 in the first six months of 2021. When schools reopened in January 2022, many pregnant girls reported back to school encouraged by the directive from government that schools accept them back. At Wiggins Secondary School in Kumi District in Eastern Uganda, there are 5 pregnant girls and 5 are breastfeeding. Most schools that have registered pregnant girls or young mothers are in rural areas. However, some girls are still facing stigma and discrimination partly due to pronouncements by an Anglican Bishop stopping Church of Uganda founded schools from accepting back pregnant girls.

Attempts at seeking remedy

On 11 January 2022, a case was filed in the High Court of Uganda against the state for breach of its duty to protect, respect and fulfil the right to education for all. In this civil suit, the applicants, ISER, together with Andrew Karamagi and Micheal Aboneka, want the court to issue an order compelling the Minister of Education and Sports to immediately exercise its statutory obligation under the Education Act 2008 to regulate tuition and non-tuition charges payable at any school or education institution in Uganda. The applicants also want the court to ban the mandatory solicitation of school requirements (and any other non-cash contributions) by any school or education institution.

To address gender and equity issues that are impeding access to education for girls, the case seeks the court’s pronouncement on the rights of pregnant girls and nursing mothers to education and the need to create a framework to provide facilities for them in all schools and education institutions in Uganda. The hearing of this court case is scheduled for 24 February 2022.

It is a given that government must increase investment in public education to reduce the burden for households. The influx of children from private to public schools points to issues of sustainability, which makes a compelling case to strengthen public education because it absorbs the poor and disadvantaged children who make up the majority. In Uganda, however, there is hope. A new Education Policy Review Commission has just been established to look into what needs to be done differently to make the education system a catalyst of socio-economic transformation.

 

The post Inaction by government fueling exploitation and inequity in education in Uganda appeared first on World Education Blog.

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El robo de tierras indígenas y el circo del turismo blanco en África

El cortometraje ‘Nyama’ narra la expulsión de la comunidad batwa de territorios protegidos de Uganda en pro de la conservación medioambiental y critica la condescendencia de los extranjeros

Una pareja de turistas de algún país occidental, blancos; un paseo por un hermoso parque en Kisoro, Uganda; cuatro indígenas ataviados con una vestimenta que ya no usan… Y un guardabosques que toma la foto para el recuerdo. El mismo que les cobró 70 euros por persona y que le pide a Florenz Mariserena, una de los cuatro miembros de la comunidad batwa que guían a los extranjeros, que arroje a la nada una lanza de madera. Ella la sostiene sin entender nada.

— Si no hay nada para cazar…

— A los blancos les gusta ver cómo intentas cazar como lo hacían antes. Oh, Florenz, ¿puedes tirarla ya?

Esta es una de las poderosas escenas del cortometraje Nyama (Carne, en español), que retrata a Florenz, una madre batwa expulsada de su hogar y que hace todo lo posible para alimentar a su hijo pequeño, Tuyi. La película, de apenas 15 minutos, refleja lo que les ocurre a muchos pueblos indígenas del continente africano que son desplazados sistemáticamente de sus tierras ancestrales en nombre de los intereses económicos, la explotación o, incluso, la conservación de la naturaleza.

Estas comunidades pierden sus medios de subsistencia y se ven abocados a una pobreza atroz. Para muchos, como para esta brillante actriz primeriza, “vender” su cultura a los extranjeros es uno de los únicos medios de vida, aunque la mayor parte de los beneficios ni siquiera lo reciban ellos. Las entradas a parques naturales en esta región oscilan entre los 500 y los 2.000 euros. Fiore Longo, directora de la campaña Descolonizar la conservación de la naturaleza de Survival International, critica que el porcentaje que obtienen los lugareños es “mínima”.

Y esa es apenas la punta del iceberg. Longo es además muy crítica con el papel de las organizaciones ecologistas en África: “El modelo de conservación que se está llevando a cabo es muy racista y colonial, pues se basa en la idea de que para que la naturaleza esté sana, tiene que estar a salvo de los humanos porque estos la destruyen. Pero no todos. Los indígenas llevan dependiendo de ella y cuidándola desde siempre, pero no de manera invasiva, que es a lo que está acostumbrado el hombre blanco y occidental. Sin embargo, bajo el pretexto de querer crear espacios protegidos, a los guardianes de la tierra se les expulsa de ellas para dejar entrar al turista”.

Para la activista, grandes ONG como WWF (el Fondo Mundial para la Naturaleza), WCS y African Parks están al tanto de estas “atrocidades” desde hace años, “pero siguen financiando y apoyando la conservación colonial”. “Echarle la culpa solo a los gobiernos africanos no tiene ningún sentido”, zanja. Sucede en distintos países, de hecho, ya en 2020, la UE tomó medidas (retirada de financiación) por violar los derechos de los pigmeos en un proyecto de conservación en Congo.

Los batwa (o atwa, antaño llamados pigmeos, el pueblo más antiguo de África) son una comunidad presente en varios países de África; Uganda, Ruanda y República Democrática del Congo, principalmente. Es una sociedad cazadora y recolectora que depende exclusivamente de la naturaleza. Aunque se estima que más de 80.000 habitan en el corazón del continente, la gran mayoría se ha visto forzada al desplazamiento, sin apenas una alternativa gubernamental a su modo de vida. “Lo que vimos en el corto no es una anécdota; no es un caso que saliera mal. Lo que vimos es la norma en los espacios protegidos en Asia y África”, explica.

Para mí, como hombre blanco, el proceso creativo tuvo mucho que ver con dar un paso para atrás y preguntar todo el tiempo

Asher Rosen, codirector del corto

Cuando Asher Rosen, codirector del corto, llegó a Uganda tenía una intención completamente diferente. “Quería hablar de los guardabosques y su rol de héroes”, reconoce. “Yo mismo hice este recorrido que critico en la cinta y sentí que algo no estaba del todo bien. No me pareció real y fue entonces cuando me di cuenta de que la historia tenía que ser esa. Tenía que contar la realidad de estas poblaciones y lo equivocado que está este enfoque turístico”. Tras un exhaustivo casting de 927 personas pertenecientes a la comunidad, el equipo de cine formó brevemente a los seleccionados y fueron ellos mismos quienes escribieron prácticamente todo el guión. “Para mí, como hombre blanco, el proceso creativo tuvo mucho que ver con dar un paso para atrás y preguntar todo el tiempo”, cuenta por videollamada. El corto se puede ver en la página web de la productora y a través de una petición al correo nyamafilm@gmail.com.

Una escena del cortometraje 'Nyama' (Carne, en español).
Una escena del cortometraje ‘Nyama’ (Carne, en español).CEDIDO POR LA PRODUCTORA

El corto tiene la clara intención de mostrar los matices. Tanto para Rosen como para Longo, no se trata de “buenos y malos”. “Es más bien una guerra entre pobres”, aclara Tongo. “Los guardabosques son igual de pobres que los indígenas, pero de repente las organizaciones les dan un poder que no tenían antes”. Rosen añade: “Muchos de los que conocimos simplemente eran personas intentando sobrevivir. Es importante entender la realidad tan compleja que nos rodea y sus dualidades”.

Galardonado por los Premios Africanos de Cine como mejor corto y proyectado en enero por Survival International, se grabó en 10 días tras más de dos meses de convivencia en la misma casa. “Compartimos espacio como una familia que vive bajo el mismo techo y se ve cepillándose los dientes, comiendo, teniendo un mal día… Eso nos hizo entendernos un poco más de igual a igual. Solo después de ese proceso pudimos empezar a construir un relato real”, narra el inglés. Y real es. La interpretación es auténtica porque los hechos también lo son.

El modelo de conservación que se está llevando a cabo es muy racista y colonial, pues se basa en la idea de que para que la naturaleza esté sana, tiene que estar a salvo de los humanos porque estos la destruyen. Pero no todos

Fiore Longo, directora de la campaña ‘Descolonizar la conservación de la naturaleza’ de Survival International

Mariserena, una mujer menuda, pero robusta, con una voz igual de profunda que su mirada, es víctima de todo lo que interpreta en la cinta. Madre de 11 niños y huérfana a raíz del genocidio de Ruanda (en el que los batwa también fueron el objetivo de los hutus) sufre a diario el estigma y la pobreza de ser una mujer sin tierra. “Parece que cuando se habla de comunidades afectadas por el conflicto, solo se reflejan las necesidades tangibles”, dice Rosen, “la casa, la comida… pero se obvia la salud mental”, cuenta en relación con la depresión que padece desde hace años Mariserena.

La inestabilidad económica como norma también la conoce bien Bizimana Hussain, el actor que interpreta al guardabosques. La actuación, dice, le vino regalada. Obligado a emigrar cuando era un niño, también por el genocidio de Ruanda, creció en los barrios marginales. Aunque no es batwa, aprendió sus canciones, cultura y acento y, cuentan, engaña a todos en la ciudad. La necesidad hizo el talento. Se ha hecho pasar por congoleño cuando los campos de refugiados los alimentaban durante la emergencia. Y por batwa en la película. “Como él mismo me dijo: consiguió sobrevivir gracias al ‘circo de la pobreza’”, recuerda el codirector.

Entrar a casa ajena sin pedir permiso

Aunque la crítica al turismo es mordaz, el director insiste en no generalizar ni “satanizar” la visita extranjera. “No queríamos hacer una película de enfado. Ni atacar a los viajeros. Pero sí queríamos mostrar que igual no están entendiendo el mundo en el que están entrando”. Rosen insiste: “No me gustaría que nuestro proyecto hiciera que la gente dejase de venir, porque es muy necesario, pero claramente tal como está no funciona”.

Para Longo, la responsabilidad también recae en el propio visitante. “Lo fundamental es informarse antes de viajar. Nadie defiende el fin del turismo en África. Pero tal y como lo concebimos hoy en día, estamos alimentando el robo de tierras. Es como si entráramos en casa ajena sin pedir permiso”, explica tras defender que hay cientos de denuncias y noticias públicas y fáciles de encontrar en internet. “Tenemos que tener cuidado con los refugios a los que vamos, los parques que visitamos… Porque aunque exista una buena intención, nuestro dinero puede estar fomentando el desalojo de personas como Florenz en todo el mundo”.

Fuente: https://elpais.com/planeta-futuro/africa-no-es-un-pais/2022-02-09/el-turismo-blanco-en-africa-y-el-hacer-de-la-pobreza-un-circo.html

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Uganda: Primer día de reapertura de clases de chino en escuela secundaria

África/Uganda/23-01-2022/Autor(a) y Fuente: Spanish.xinhuanet.com 

LUWERO, 12 enero, 2022 (Xinhua) — Imagen del 11 de enero de 2022 de la maestra Hilda Ayebare impartiendo una lección en el primer día de reapertura de las clases de chino tras seis meses de cierre debido a la pandemia de la COVID-19, en la escuela secundaria Ndejje, en el distrito de Luwero, Región Central, Uganda. (Xinhua/Nicholas Kajoba)

LUWERO, 12 enero, 2022 (Xinhua) — Imagen del 11 de enero de 2022 de la maestra Hilda Ayebare impartiendo una lección en el primer día de reapertura de las clases de chino tras seis meses de cierre debido a la pandemia de la COVID-19, en la escuela secundaria Ndejje, en el distrito de Luwero, Región Central, Uganda. (Xinhua/Nicholas Kajoba)

LUWERO, 12 enero, 2022 (Xinhua) — Imagen del 11 de enero de 2022 de la maestra Hilda Ayebare impartiendo una lección en el primer día de reapertura de las clases de chino tras seis meses de cierre debido a la pandemia de la COVID-19, en la escuela secundaria Ndejje, en el distrito de Luwero, Región Central, Uganda. (Xinhua/Nicholas Kajoba)

Fuente e Imagen: http://spanish.news.cn/photo/2022-01/14/c_1310421770.htm

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Uganda schools reopen after almost two years of Covid closure

Africa/Uganda/14-01-2022/Author and Source: www.kbc.co.ke

Children in Uganda have expressed their joy at finally returning to school nearly two years after they were closed because of Covid.

“I am really excited because it’s been a long time without seeing our teachers. And we have missed out a lot,” Joel Tumusiime told the BBC.

“I am glad to be back at school,” echoed another, Mercy Angel Kebirungi.

But after one of the world’s longest school closures, authorities warned at least 30% of students may never return.

Some have started work, while others have become pregnant or married early, the country’s national planning authority said.

About 15 million students have been affected by the closure, the government says.

“We can’t let this happen again. We must keep schools open for every child, everywhere,” the UN children’s agency, Unicef, warned on Twitter.

Some classes reopened in October 2020 temporarily but closed again in May and June of the following year.

While schools were closed, there have been some lessons via the radio, TV and newspapers while some schools have provided printed materials, but these have not reached everyone.

Wealthier Ugandans have also been able to access online classes and home tutors.

But many children have not been to school for about 22 months.

One pupil explained how she continued learning during the long hiatus.

“My parents never had the time to study with me. When schools were closed, I was able to read, but on my own. Sometimes I would meet with friends to study,” said Christine Teburwa. Like Joel and Mercy, she is in Primary Five, meaning they are between nine and 11 years old.

Pupils who have not had any education since March 2020 will resume classes a year above where they were before the pandemic.

However, some parents in the capital, Kampala, questioned this.

“My children have not been learning at all. I wish they could be allowed to continue from where they stopped,” Rachael Nalumansi said.

“Before the first lockdown, our children had only been in school for two weeks. So it is a bit concerning that they are now promoting them to the next class,” Vanetta Bangi said.

For those students who have not accessed any form of studying during the pandemic, the curriculum will be abridged to focus on core areas and give them a chance to catch up.

Lessons were already underway at some schools I visited on Monday morning while at others, students were still cleaning classrooms and re-organising their desks. Others were still registering with the school administration.

Boarding school students in Kampala and the nearby districts will start throughout the week, to avoid congestion on public transport.

Despite authorities instructing that health and safety measures like masks and social distancing should be in place, not all institutions have the space or facilities to ensure that these steps are properly followed. Some have huge numbers of students and very few classrooms.

But it is not only learners who will struggle, but many parents’ incomes were also hit by the pandemic, and some will find it difficult to raise money for tuition fees and other school requirements.

The phased reopening of schools, which started in November with universities and higher education institutions, was pegged to the vaccination of over 550,000 teachers, their support staff, and students aged 18 and above.

Uganda, which has had some of the world’s strictest lockdowns, is now moving to fully reopen the economy despite being at the start of its third wave of the pandemic driven by the Omicron variant.

Source an Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/uganda-schools-reopen-after-almost-two-years-of-covid-closure/

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Uganda: Un académico ugandés detenido por sospecha de espionaje

Un académico ugandés detenido por sospecha de espionaje

Lawrence Muganga, académico ugandés y vicerrector de la Universidad Victoria, una institución académica privada, fue detenido el pasado jueves por las fuerzas de seguridad del país debido a que se tenía sospechas de espionaje en oposición al gobierno.

Lawrence Muganga pertenece a la etnia ruandesa banyarwanda y es el más destacado de la misma dentro de Uganda. De hecho, a principios de año ya lideró una campaña para que esta etnia ruandesa tuviera más importancia en el país, ya que, según él, el gobierno les margina y les niega ciertos servicios públicos como el carné de identidad.

A principio de año, Muganga promocionó una campaña para cambiar el nombre de la etnia de Abavandimwe ya que afirmaba que están siendo excluidos por el gobierno al denegarles servicios públicos como tarjetas de identificación. Esta campaña fue apoyada por un destacado empresario del país llamado Frank Gashumba.

El académico nació en Uganda, donde su familia huyó a los campos de refugiados después de dejar Ruanda durante los asesinatos étnicos masivos. Según los registros de la universidad, el vicerrector estudió en Canadá y obtuvo un doctorado de la Universidad de Alberta en Canadá.

Hay fuentes que afirman que la detención de Muganga fue violenta y se hizo sin ningún reparo al haberse producido en plena luz del día en Kampala, la capital. No obstante, la portavoz militar, Flavia Byekwaso, declaró que el supuesto secuestro del vicerrector es “falso”.

Fuente: Nation – The East African – Africa CTGN

[Traducción y edición, María Torondel Lara]

[Fundación Sur]

 

Fuente de la Información: https://www.africafundacion.org/un-academico-ugandes-detenido-por-sospecha-de-espionaje

 

 

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Uganda: Gov’t adjusts school calendar, extends academic year to September

Gov’t adjusts school calendar, extends academic year to September

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Education and Sports has made tentative adjustments in the school calendar to enable learners to complete their respective syllabi before being promoted to the next classes.

The adjustment comes days after the government announced a 42-day closure of schools to control COVID-19 infections in the face of a second wave of the pandemic. Under the new arrangement, the lower primary classes that were scheduled to return to school on Monday, June 7, will now report on July 19, 2021, alongside the Senior One class.

According to the new schedule, the said group of learners will study for six and half weeks and break off on September 3, 2021, while the senior two students will also report on the same day but break off earlier on August 13. After completing the 2020 academic year, the ministry has set September 20, 2021, as the new date for the beginning of the 2021 academic year. Previously, the new academic year was supposed to begin on August 9.

Alex Kakooza, the education ministry permanent secretary says adjustments have been made to ensure that all learners complete the the revised school calendar for the academic year 2020 before being promoted to the next class. “…the academic year 2020 will be completed and all learners, who will have attended classes as per the official revised calendar will be promoted,” the circular reads in part.

“To ensure equity in the provision of education in the country, no school shall carry out promotions outside the above time frames on the pretext that some learners had attended private lessons and are therefore ahead of the rest,” Kakooza noted.

In terms of school fees, the permanent secretary guided that senior one and two will report and complete the remaining part of the term without paying any additional fees, in case they had already completed the interrupted term fees. The same will apply to students in schools that hosted UNEB marking centres.

Kakooza further says that when semi candidates report for the special term, the school is not expected to charge parents more than 60 percent of the normal fees. “P6, S3, and S5 who were expected to report on June 7 for a special term, will report and pay fees proportionate to the shorter term. For the avoidance of doubt, no school should charge more than 60 percent of the standard fees,” he stressed.

In the same development, a source at the ministry says that there are already discussions on the hybrid teaching model where the ministry plans to reintroduce broadcasted lessons to supplement the reading materials that have been distributed for the days that learners will spend at home.

“The only challenge is with lower primary who had not received study material. The COVID-19 response committee had a meeting yesterday and we expect them to advise how this will be handled,” the source added.

Dr Tony Mukasa Lusambu, an education consultant advises that after setting up short-term interventions, the ministry should set up a think tank including a of group experts to look for long interventions to sustain the education sector than applying firefighting methods.

“Adjustments can be made and we put short time intervention. However, no one is tall enough to see the future and tell us that after 42 days schools will reopen as planned. We need a broader and better plan for our education sector,” Dr Lusambu, a former commissioner at the education ministry said.

 

Fuente de la Información: https://www.independent.co.ug/govt-adjusts-school-calendar-extends-academic-year-to-september/

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Uganda closes schools as Covid cases rise

Africa/Uganda/11-06-2021/Author and Source: www.kbc.co.ke

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has shut down schools and suspended public gatherings as the country faces a surge of infections in a second Covid-19 wave.

Public transport between districts will be banned starting Thursday to allow students who are in schools to return home.

Bars, cinemas and theatres have also been closed.

The suspension of schools and gatherings takes effect from Monday and will be in place for 42 days.

Dozens of schools had reported virus cases among staff and students prompting the closure.

The announcement came hours after the health ministry announced 1,259 new coronavirus cases – the highest number of infections recorded in a single day – and nine deaths on Sunday.

A rise in coronavirus cases was reported two weeks ago and officials mulled over a lockdown to prevent health facilities from being overwhelmed.

The national referral hospital Mulago reported a spike in Covid-19 patients last week, saying it needed to increase bed capacity.

Uganda has 52,929 cases of coronavirus and 374 deaths so far.

By BBC News

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/uganda-closes-schools-as-covid-cases-rise/

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