Moving Away from Traditional Educational Scholarships
With 19 years of experience, Into Your Hands Africa has learned that education alone will not create sustainable economic change in rural Uganda. Only 20% of families are financially able to support a student through secondary school. Of the total amount of secondary school graduates, only 4% graduate from a vocational or university college. Of the 20% who graduate from secondary school, 80% remain unemployed after graduation with little or no practical training that will allow him or her to support their family or earn ongoing revenue.
Physical access to school is one issue; but even with this access, there are barriers that prevent girls from receiving an education to which they are entitled. Young women are frequently harassed on the long walk to school and in many places; it is too dangerous due to animals or sexual assault for the girls to make the long trek on foot. Of girls that live in rural areas, 33% are not enrolled in school compared to only 29% of boys (Sperling and Winthrop, 2016).
In response to this need, the Life Skills Program was born. Life Skills includes in-class lessons, exposure visits and a livestock project to support students in self-funding their own education. The Life Skills program meets the immediate needs of the student by funding his or her secondary education while bringing long-term benefits of residual income, food security, best practices in animal husbandry and economic opportunity and trade for the local economy.
Since launching the Life Skills program, student enrollment at one of our partner schools, St. James Secondary has increased by 65% among grades senior-one through senior-four. Enrollment rates of senior-one students have increased by 133% with a female enrollment increase of 19% between the 2017 and 2018.
In 2018, St James Secondary School students received 50 chickens and 40 piglet projects. One student that has been impacted by his new student business is Mutesasira Ramathan.
Mutesasira Ramathan is a senior two student at St James Secondary School. Ramathan’s most memorable moment thus far is his first day of school at St James. On behalf of PB and K Family Foundation, Ramathan was gifted with 32 one-day-old chickens as apart of the Life Skills Scholarship Program. Seven months into the program, 26 birds remain and two have already begun laying eggs. Ramathan is receiving four eggs per week allowing him to earn an income of 10,000 shillings per month. He anticipates that within the next month, an additional ten hens will begin laying eggs allowing him to collect over 140 eggs per month. Ramathan plans to sell all of the eggs for a period of one to three months in order to collect enough revenue to help him purchase more poultry feeds and vaccinations. In the following months, Ramathan will hatch all of the remaining eggs to begin expanding his business. Within one year, he hopes to begin earning 2,100,000 shillings ($617) from selling his eggs while also expanding his poultry business up to 200 chickens. With this new income, Ramathan will begin setting aside funds for college. His efforts will help him work towards his dream of becoming a journalist in the future.
Without the Life Skills program and educational stipends, the majority of St James students including Mutesasira Ramathan would not be in school and generational poverty would continue. The Life Skills program and livestock business is their chance to break the cycle and provide themselves and their family with an opportunity to be lifted up to a new economic status.