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Uganda to expand back-to-school campaign to war-affected north
This event is part of a national campaign to accelerate enrollment, retention and completion by boys and girls, with a particular focus on the conflict-affected northern and northeastern parts of the country. The ‘Go to School, Back to School, Stay in School’ campaign was launched in the district of Kotido on 13 February 2007, and is set to benefit some 1.3 million children in and out of school as well as 13,000 teachers in 1,600 schools in 18 districts.
According to the latest statistics, in the 2004-2005 school year, nearly 7.2 million children were enrolled in school in Uganda, 50 per cent of them girls. However, the latest data from the Ministry of Education and Sports indicate that in the Lango sub-region, less than 50 per cent of the children enter primary school at the officially prescribed age of six. Of those who do enroll in school, relatively few (50 per cent or less) complete the first cycle of schooling.
“Low levels of primary school enrollment, retention and completion represent a basic violation of child rights and an urgent priority for action by all stakeholders,” said UNICEF Representative in Uganda Keith McKenzie. “The immediate impact of low education levels on individual health, HIV/AIDS prevention and protection from various forms of neglect, abuse and exploitation is crucial.”
Today’s campaign will be kick-started in the Lira district and will target 450,00 children returning home from displacement camps, as well as 4,500 teachers in 650 schools in five districts in the Lango sub-region over the next two years.
UNICEF is assisting the campaign by providing educational materials such as writing tools, mathematical sets and school bags; hygiene supplies such as sanitary cloths and soap; and sports equipment such as football and volleyball kits.
UNICEF is also providing teacher-training materials for use by primary-school teachers and pre-primary caregivers, and is supporting local drama and music groups to incorporate campaign messages in their performances.
Orum Primary School, the launch venue, remained operational during the height of conflict-related insecurity and violence in 2003-2006, and hosted a cluster of 14 other schools in the sub-county that were themselves displaced. These 14 schools have since been reestablished in their original areas with the ongoing, limited return of internally displaced populations in the sub-region.
“UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to avail all the resources possible to help communities across Uganda send their children – girls and boys alike – to school,” McKenzie said.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Media, Kampala, +256-772-222-347, firstname.lastname@example.org
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF Media, New York, +1-212-326-7162, email@example.com