Over 100,000 teenage mothers are on the verge of never returning to school if no critical interventions are put in check
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Save the Children has today supported the launch of the Ministry of Education and Sports nationwide ‘Safe Back to School’ campaign.
The campaign will be supported by government and partners across Uganda to ensure that every child goes back to school safely.
Every child has the right to education and Uganda has pledged to uphold this through Articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Evidence shows that education and learning also lead to better improved development outcomes for countries, families, and future generations.
Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, State Minister of Education, presided over the launch.
“If you are a young person who has had a baby, if you are a child living with a disability, if you are a young boy working in a quarry or out fishing with your father, today, you can return to school, ” said the minister at the launch.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions put in place to contain its spread, including school closures in Uganda and the rest of the world, created an unprecedented crisis in education.
Various reports indicated an increase in child protection cases across the country during the close to two years of school closure.
Save the Children officials said they believe that all children deserve the right to education, health and protection including refugees, child mothers and children with disabilities.
“Learning and going to school is the most important activity in a child’s life. It prepares them for the world of work, brings hope and dignity to children and their families, and it opens doors to a prosperous life filled with knowledge, experiment, and wonder.”
This ‘Back to School’ campaign, said Save the Children officials, will highlight this while encouraging parents, guardians and caregivers to take all their children back to school following the reopening on January 10 that ended the close to two years of closure.
Statistics from the National Child Helpline Sauti 116, indicate an increase in cases of violence against children during the various lockdowns.
For example, from April to September 2020, cases of violence against children increased from 2400 to 5000 cases as reported by the National Child Help Line.
The issue of first-time child mothers, too, has been widely reported. Over 100,000 teenage mothers are on the verge of never returning to school if no critical interventions are put in check to encourage them to do so. The boys and girls who began work to help contribute to their family income may also never return to school.
“All children have the opportunity to go back to school today. If you are a child with a disability, you have the right and the opportunity to go back to school, the school is there to support you. If you are a child who has been working, you can go back to school. If you are a young woman who has had a child, you have the right to go back to school today. The education system in Uganda is there to support you,” Bev Roberts-Reite, the Director of Programme Development and Quality at Save the Children, said.
Officials said school is the safest place for children outside the home.
Save the Children with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Sports, partners across the country, donor partners and the UN are working hard to ensure that this return to learning is safe for teachers, for students and for parents.