Posted 04 July 2011, by Sam Caleb Opio, Daily Monitor (Discover Uganda), monitor.co.ug
Children under the Monitor Newspapers in Education programme excelled in the Global Education Essay Competition with a call for promotion of a reading culture.
The essay competition, organised by Plan Uganda under the theme Promoting Girls Education, attracted over 2,000 competitors. It was organised to create awareness and draw attention of leaders and policy makers to fulfil the promise of education for all goal of achieving gender parity by 2005 and gender equality by 2015.
The children raised concerns and shared their experiences. They made suggestions and challenged the government on quality education and girl-child-friendly schools promotion.
In their essays, the children blacklisted domestic responsibilities, sexual abuse, social norms that discourage female autonomy, girls safety and an unfavourable environment as hindrances to girls education.
They called upon the government to speed up gender policy, provide sanitary towels and to improve schools to make them girl-friendly for retention of girls.
The children also warned parents that they are not goods to be sold since they have choices to make. Kamuli District Education Officer Joseph Musoke in his keynote address, pointed out that reading and writing skills in schools had gone down and the poor reading culture had slipped into national councils as evidenced by the poor swearing-in ceremonies recently.
Mr Musoke said it was not a surprise that schools like Sunrise Kampala, Kamuli Girls’ and Kamuli Boys’ had produced winners because they are well exposed to newspapers and other reading materials.
“Kamuli Boys’ had a pupil going to South Africa through this programme so we need to embrace it and emulate them,” he said. The DEO said the NiE programme helped learning get pleasurable.
“It sharpens children’s knowledge worldwide and has made the children well-informed,” he added. Plan Uganda Country Director Ms Subhadra Bellbase said the essays revealed that children are aware and wary of the education gaps with girls education undermined by the community, schools and policy based factors.
She discouraged the practice of kneeling down, saying it promotes an inferiority complex among girls and women and smacks of male chauvinism.
Ms Bellbase revealed that Plan believes in gender equality and firmly believes in fighting discrimination and investing in girls education as the right thing to do as an investment not only in the present but future of a better world.
She disclosed that the girl child is taking centre stage now as Plan celebrates its 75th anniversary next year with the theme: Because I am a Girl.
“We have integrated programmes for child protection, reproductive health and education, among others, and we implore you to join and support Learning Without Fear, Because I am a Girl, Birth and Death registration and rights of children, among others,” she called.