The project in brief
Uganda and South Sudan
March 2018 - February 2021 (currently ongoing, hoping for an extension)
Key to the BRICE ‘Education for Life’ project is the principle that all children and out of school youths should be provided access and opportunity to attend and complete a primary school level educational program.
Hence, at the core of the project is the support to 22 centers in South Sudan and Uganda reaching an estimated 5.728 beneficiaries with accelerated education programs (AEP) of which 58% are refugees/IDPs.
The project is called ‘Education for Life’ and aims to ensure quality, sustainable and resilient educational opportunities for refugees in Northern Uganda and IDP’s in South Sudan, along with school aged children in the respective host-countries. Related to the implementation of AEP (accelerated education programs) the project focusses on raising the professional competences of teachers through a continuous teacher training and supervision program targeted both AEP teachers and teacher in the primary schools hosting the AEP centers. Altogether 665 teachers are set to benefit from the program.
"It was such a wonderful opportunity for me to become a teacher in the Education for Life project. In this community there are many problems especially with girls who leave school because they have children at an early age. Through the project we have the opportunity to bring them back to school – and give them the hope of a brighter future. It makes me proud to see these girls study again. They grow increasingly independent, and some of them even share their new knowledge with those in their community who are still at home. These girls are the future mothers of the nation – what they learn in school now will help our country later on."
- Gloria Akoli, 27 years old, teacher in the Education for life project at Awich Primary School, Palabek Refugee Settlement, Uganda
Another main area of focus is related to fighting gender inequality. By exploring various ways of making school environments and teaching and learning processes responsive to the needs of both boys and girls, the GRP model strives to create and assure gender responsive academic environments and works with changing gender norms in the targeted communities. This is further integrated through strong emphasis on prioritizing the recruitment of female teachers, improving both the enrollment and retention of girls in school, while providing the girls with positive female role models challenging otherwise dominating gender stereotypes and norms. Likewise work with school governance structures and role models ensures that the perceptions of local communities towards negative gender norms is challenged.
Project funded by the European Union
Main activities of the Good Practice
In the ‘Education for Life’ project significant emphasis is put on building teacher’s professional competencies through continuous professional development in order to sustain changes in teaching practices and thereby to assure improved resilience in the educational systems. The teacher professional development is implemented through a contextualization of the globally recognized training package for Primary School Teachers in Crisis Context which focuses on teacher training complemented by peer to peer support and supervision. Local partners have been in charge of this contextualization and adaptation of the programme according to the situation in East African countries.
Additionally, the TEPD program supports gender sensitive educational programming by equipping teachers with skills to assure a more gender sensitive teaching, encourages equal participation and treatment of girls and boys and ensures responsiveness and sensitivity to special needs of all learners incl. the psycho social needs of learners in conflict and crisis affected settings.
Apart from the strong focus on gender sensitive teaching the project has paid attention to creating gender sensitive facilities e.g. by the establishment of WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) facilities: gender segregated latrines for both students and teachers at the school compounds, along with ‘Girls Corners’: a space for girls and young mothers to rest, breastfeed, and wash in a private and safe environment. Here they are also provided with ‘dignity kits’: containing sanitary pads and clean clothes to enhance good menstrual hygiene.
The project is carried out by a large consortium consisting of international and local partner organisations in South Sudan and Uganda as well as at regional and global level:
- CDI (Community Development Initiative)
- UNATU (Uganda National Teachers Union)
- FAWEU (Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda)
- LGIHE (Luigi Guissani Institute of Higher Education)
- AVSI (Association of Volunteer in Service International)
- Education International
Research component from Teachers College, Columbia University
Challenges and how they were overcome
In response to the global Covid19 pandemic and prolonged national lock-downs in both Uganda and South-Sudan, forcing temporary closure of all educational institutions, the consortium came together to rethink how best to ensure continuation of the educational programs. Some of these initiatives are mentioned in the following.
How they were overcome
Radios have been distributed, enabling learners to gather in smaller groups to receive teaching via government supported radio programs. PTA members and other community members have come together in support of this community learning. Additionally home learning materials have been distributed in line with the Ministry of Education in Uganda. In South Sudan where such materials were not readily available teachers themselves stepped up to prepare home learning packages for learners to complete at home in line with the national curricula. In some locations teachers have been supported with bicycles to allow them to more easily visit community based learning groups and provide individual home visits for vulnerable learners. In both countries outreach has been done to get the final year learners back to school in line with government regulations.
To also provide for teachers and ensure their protection and well-being teachers in both countries have received personal protective equipment packages containing re-usable face masks, hand sanitizer and washing gel along with the equipment to support the home-based learning solutions. Partners have further taken teachers through a COVID 19 awareness raising program providing them important information about the disease, risk mitigation and prevention to ensure protection of themselves and their learners. In addition teachers have been taken through a short PSS training (PsychoSocial Support) developed by one of the global partners, Columbia University, supported by LGIHE and rolled out by the implementing partners. These activities have also been implemented to ensure a coherent approach in all 22 AEP Centers related to the well-being and protection of teachers and learners during Covid19.
Advocacy practices related to implications of Covid19 has also been of great priority for local consortium partners in both countries. Using studies Education International and Oxfam has been generated evidence on the impact of COVID 19 on the education systems and in the two countries as well as the gendered impact of school closures which will help inform advocacy activities going forward. Experiences from the project is also used to feed into global processes such as the Global Refugee Forum and Education Cannot Wait. Through various media platforms at national and local level awareness has been raised towards specific issues related to teachers and learners in refugee/IDP and host communities and critical voices have been raised towards local and national government bodies, particularly in regards to their management, education financing and prioritization of Covid19 responses, consequently increasing educational inequality by, amongst other, excluding large numbers of students and teachers who do not have direct access to the technological means required to receive online educational initiatives. The advocacy work is an important way of connecting the project from local to global.
Results of the Good Practice
By supporting 22 AEP centers in South-Sudan and Uganda, the ‘Education for Life’ project is estimated to have reached 5.728 beneficiaries (learners) with the accelerated education program; 58% of these are refugees and IDP’s.
It is furthermore set to reach 665 teachers, benefitting from the teacher training and supervision.
The project further supports the local communities; emphasizing the recruitment of female teachers has improved both the enrollment and retention of girls in school. By providing the children with positive female role models, otherwise dominating gender stereotypes and norms are challenged.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
The project supports the Ugandan government by delivering and linking education to refugees in accordance to local processes and educational plans.