Uganda’s education system is a four-tier structure modeled along with a 7-4-2-3 year progression pattern: 7 years of primary education, followed by 2 years of lower secondary or ordinary level (‘O’ level), 2 years of upper secondary or advanced level (‘A’ level) and 3 – 5 five years of tertiary education. The main problem with education in Uganda is that it is not free. Not even Universal Primary Education (free as published by the Ugandan government) is truly free. The tuition may be free, but parents/guardians still have to pay for uniforms (including shoes), school supplies, school meals, PTA fees, building contribution, toilet paper, reams of writing paper, brooms, etc. If the family is unable to pay, the children are chased away from school – this means that the poorest of society simply cannot attend. The orphans and girls are the most affected children!
Seeing education as the key to economic development, PARC runs/manages its own schools and supports other existing educational establishments (both public and private schools) working together with the local community to improve, consolidate and monitor educational opportunities. All our schools double to also provide after-school tutoring (AST) sites, adult functional literacy (FAL) centers, and local hubs for the entire community (children, teachers, and parents). To ensure that all children get an education, PARC actively looks for sponsorship/ scholarships for children who struggle to raise school fees and scholastic materials for their study.
As part of community involvement and sustainability parents of all non-sponsored children (those not on the PARC program) pay a small amount towards their children’s education – This amount is affordable, even for those with a low income, and demonstrates that education is valuable. Also, parents take part in school life and are actively involved. The remaining costs of school operations are covered by donations.
PARC provides a great education to all students. Secondary schools in Uganda admit students almost exclusively using test scores. The students with the best scores get into the best schools. If a student scores very low, they will most likely not be admitted into a secondary school at all. PARC believes that all children deserve equal treatment, hence a high-quality education for all. We want to provide the same, amazing education to all of our students so we can give them the best chance to succeed! Our educational strategy is that when children graduate from our daycare/nursery school after top class (around 5-6 years), they can either join our primary school from where after year P7 (around age 12-13 years), they can either move on to our secondary school, such that they remain under our care as we continue to monitor/ mentor – and support them through all our various programs.
PARC EDUCARE CENTRE.
In many African countries, including Uganda, men strive to show their worth by fathering as many children as possible. This is particularly true for the unemployed, low-income working class. Thus, the overwhelming majority of women in Uganda today are not only illiterate but poor, frustrated, and helpless. They carry the burden of childbearing and child-rearing, often with little or no financial support. High illiteracy and birthrates remain a problem that is stalling the productivity and potentials of many poor women. Only 9% of the children aged 3 – 5 are currently being enrolled in nursery or preschool which translates into a gap of 91% yet there is a positive link between early childhood learning and the future holistic development of a child. While Early Childhood Development (ECD) is an important facet of an effective educational journey for any child, it is not provided for nationally which inevitably excludes children from vulnerable families from accessing it. And because there are no ECD facilities, the mothers work with their children strapped to their backs – and these children spend nearly all day without a meal. In contrast, the traditional childcare centers in Uganda are very expensive and usually provide services for children aged 3 and older.
PARC Educare will use an integrated approach offering multi-service early learning, child-care, and family support. We will run daycare centers caring for children aged 1.5-3 years while educating the mothers/caregivers on the basics of early childhood development (ECD) – especially in the areas of childcare, play, and nutrition, as well as support them generate employment opportunities for them through savings and lending associations (VSLAs). This will be an important step toward increasing women’s independence and helping them reach a position in which they can negotiate greater control over their bodies (family planning), family budgeting, and support the health of their children such as immunization campaigns.
A play-based approach to children’s learning and development will the basis for our program planning and delivery of activities. To help families give their young children the best start in life, the center will also be a place for children aged 0-6, their parents and caregivers to take part in programs and activities together – this will allow the parents/ caregiver to get information about services available to them in the community, learn about their children’s development and get answers to their questions.
Our daycare will not only help prepare children for entry into primary schools but also will provide a foundation to well succeed when they join the primary school – improve their school grades and will be empowered to follow their dreams. PARC’s plan is to establish daycare centers in different villages/communities to make ECD services more accessible, which will also serve as Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) centers in those communities to help women to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills – allow them to confidently make informed decisions and business deals on their own.
SHINE PREPARATORY SCHOOL
Why and how it started:
With help of international volunteers in 2016, we started paying school fees for 12 children attending different local schools. Besides challenges to monitor and supervise the attendances and progress of our children in different schools, we started getting several applications from families caring for orphans, yet having many other children to cater for – we had limited resources against a huge demand from the community. With grant support in 2017, we implemented an after school tutoring program to improve children’s academic performance. This program brought together many children from different schools (in some classes) but at different levels of learning.
The need to overcome supervision and monitoring of our sponsored children at different schools, coupled with a desire to help more orphaned children, and address low-quality teaching, and enhancing quality learning in primary school gave birth to the Shine Preparatory school (SPS).
What is PARC’s school?
Started in 2018 on PARC’s own land, Shine Preparatory School (SPS) is a private mixed day nursery and elementary school. We adopt interactive child-friendly learning methodologies to provide education services using the Ugandan curriculum blended with globally proven Aflatoon curriculum (social & financial education to children) in addition to extracurricular activities. We emphasize learning through play, critical thinking, and creativity – preparing our students not only to succeed academically but also to become leaders and advocates for change in their homes and communities.
The school caters to all our sponsored children, who are joined by other children from the surrounding communities. Unlike many privates schools in Uganda, at SPS the vulnerable children have fees waived off – orphans don’t pay any fees (FREE education) while other at-risk children pay half of the school fees (SUBSIDIZED education). All other children pay affordable school fees that cover only a small percentage of the instructional expense but produce a strong family commitment to education.
We know how important it is for a child to be motivated and to be able to concentrate in class and to ensure the children perform at their best, PARC provides them with break porridge and non-meal every day. Children also get free all the necessary stationery (pens and pencils FREELY. Our teachers are committed to unlocking the potential of every child that comes through Shine doors so they can become the country’s next generation of leaders.
PARC SECONDARY SCHOOL
Upon graduation from SPS, each child would go to a secondary school of their choice but because we are uncertain of the funding (particularly for PARC’s supported children), we prefer that they continue and complete schooling through PARC schools. To achieve this, we plan is to start a secondary school in 2022, with 1 class (senior one). Each year, we will have another class added to accommodate student promoting to the next class as well as create space for students entering secondary school – qualifying from SPS and other surrounding schools.
Why start secondary school?
Using an innovative model of using fee-paying children to subsidize the school operation costs, PARC is providing over 50 orphans with completely FREE primary education – children without sponsors. In addition, we continue to oversee our children’s development, including counseling and medical care. Without a secondary or high school education, girls are more likely to marry while young, run away to the city to get a low-wage job, or become sex workers. Boys also end up working low-paying jobs and never escape the cycle of poverty.
An important part of our mission is to ensure that children reach their potential by going to secondary and high school. A strong education is our greatest hope for our children to begin envisioning a life beyond orphan-hood. As our children will be graduating from SPS in 2012, the need for a secondary school will become very clear if these orphans must continue with their education in 2022.
Because there is no secondary school in the community children have to travel far from home to attend secondary school. If our students are able to remain at home, they can help their parents with household chores and stay in their own community where they will be surrounded by the positive influences of their family and the PARC team. Children who have been orphaned face barriers that other children don’t. PARC is better equipped to help these students overcome those barriers than other secondary schools because we have years of experience working with orphans.
ALL PROFITS SUPPORTED BY DONATIONS ARE RECYCLED BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH
For over 2.7 million orphans living in Uganda, quality education is unaffordable and out of reach, locking them in a vicious cycle of poverty and robbing them of a humane childhood and living out their potential. You can change this as a child sponsor.
We are not AN ORPHANAGE but instead, our sponsorship supports orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in their homes, schools, and communities, backed with sustainability programs to help guardians – parents and their elder siblings earn an income and create long-term, sustainable change.
For every child SPONSORED, another 5 children on our program who do not have any help from their guardian or a sponsor will also indirectly benefit while for every 5 children that pay FULL SCHOOL FEES, 1 vulnerable child gets a half-fees scholarship (using PARC’s innovative child sponsorship model) – that’s because we work to strengthen the whole community, so all children can thrive. Your donations support the holistic development of individual children as well as their schools to ensure a safe and quality learning environment for every child, ultimately maximizing the impact on the whole community.
The children in the sponsorship program receive an education, emotional (psychosocial) support, and are visited at their homes on a quarterly basis to identify areas of need in their health and livelihood. In addition, it helps in subsidizing the teachers’ salary for of PARC Schools (allowing for FREE education to orphans and SUBSIDIZED Fee education to needy children), contributes to feeding school children, supporting academic enrichment programs, and facilitating the provision of scholastic essentials to OVCs (including reusable sanitary pads to the girls). We also provide life skill training, peer support, and increase access to healthcare and nutritional support for OVCs and caregivers. Through our support, these children are able to shift their focus from daily survival for themselves and their siblings, to focusing on their education and future aspirations.
We are offering a contingent of services ranging from supplemental tutoring to extra-curricular activities (sports, music, art, etc) to experimental labs so children can engage with science through interactive activities that grow their understanding of how the world works. The project is focused on building a comprehensive support system to improve the academic performance and educational outcome by;-
- Organizing tutoring classes that concentrate on English language, Mathematics, and Science and promoting engagement of secondary students in helping primary students improve their academic performances.
- Organizing kids clubs such that the children can have the freedom to act age-appropriate through free play, song, and dance for three hours on Saturday evening.
- We integrate early childhood development (ECD) with Functional Adult Literacy (FAL), where our daycare centers serve as FAL learning sites.
- Ensuring access to learning materials through the library (libraries) where academic materials and several computers connected to the internet will be free to use.
- We also integrate social and financial education for children (Aflatoun curriculum) into classroom practices and organize Aflatoun/ Aflateen clubs to create platforms for children to express themselves, discuss their problems, and learn from peers.
- Conducting meetings with parent-teachers to assess the performance of children as well as draw strategies for improvement.
- Offering computer classes will be offered to students, parents, and teachers and they will be taught how to access educational resources online.
- Planning the opening and maintaining of community contact points (to become a meeting place) for reaching out to – and active engagement with the children on the street, who have dropped out of school and started working at a very young age, supporting them to continue with their education.
By addressing the health barriers students face, we can increase the impact education has on their future. To this, we are doing the following;-
- Engaging parents, local authority leaders, and traditional leaders in community sensitization activities that promote educational programs.
- Conducting and reproductive health education (coupled with student peers facilitated health discussions) about important issues such as puberty, menstruation, early marriage, and gender roles.
- Distribution of reusable sanitary pads to girls, so that can comfortably stay in school while menstruating
- Promoting sanitation by constructing gender-separate toilets (private ‘girls only’ latrines) not only to ensure privacy but also to reduce or eliminate the rate of spread of sanitation-related diseases.
- Mobilizing local community members to strong demand and actively participate in regular parents’ meetings, to be updated with school reports.
- Training and encouraging the PTA and SMC committees to actively monitor the attendance and retention level of students to ensure that they attain good academic performance.
- Promoting teacher training on child-friendly methodologies and provision of instructional and reference materials for teachers
- Working with local communities to initiate school porridge projects and engaging them in school-based income-generating activities and student-led businesses raised funds to support the porridge projects.
- Working with school leadership to plan and implement traveling (mobile) libraries in schools and encouraging teachers to conduct extra learning sessions to boost students’ reading and writing skills.