The Ugandan Literacy Project Transforming Lives

Jude attended an IEP Positive Peace workshop, and then went on to build peace in his community by stimulating learning and school attendance.

Rotaract is a Rotary International youth program which focuses on the development of young adults as leaders in their communities and workplaces. The Rotaract Club of Nateete Kampala has continuously carried out community projects while focusing on promoting basic literacy and education.

In July 2016, the club decided to look for a community in which our efforts would be more impactful and progressive over a period of five years. We decided to focus on improving Kakuba Primary school in Busedde Sub County, Jinja District.

From 30th September to 2nd October 2016, I had the opportunity to be one of the club’s representatives at the Rotaract Peace Workshop. It was organised by Rotary Clubs of Kampala Ssese Islands (Uganda) and La Jolla Golden Triangle (Ca, USA), District 5150, District 5340, The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), The International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI). Rotaractors were trained about the eight Pillars of Peace.  Rotaract Nateete put this into action through an initiative ‘Kulaakulana’ which addresses the pillars through Kakuba Literacy project.

Before this workshop, I felt that building Positive Peace in community could only be done by the government and its bodies. However, my attitude about building peace was changed after each session that I attended. To be honest, I had not quite understood how to apply the eight pillars of Positive Peace to deliver a more rewarding and completely community service project.

In the early stages, we used four of the eight pillars of Positive Peace:

Equitable distribution of resources by providing scholastic materials such as text books,

Good relations with neighbours by creating an opportunity for surrounding families to actively participate in the project,

Acceptance of the rights of others by educating adolescent girls about menstrual hygiene,

Building a high level of human capital by creating interactive empowerment sessions with community members while paying some youths to paint classrooms.

On 25th March 2017, I was one of the club’s representatives at the second Pillars of Peace workshop. We gave feedback about what we had learnt from the previous work shop and how we had applied the Pillars into projects. Throughout the sessions, building peace became more relevant to me and it opened my mind about how each individual has a role to play in this process. All the pillars started making sense to me and I related them to improving my Club’s project.

I understood how youths can transform a whole community. By improving a focal area using the limited available resources, the positive effect spills over to impact surrounding areas. This ripple effect transforms the entire community eventually.

Kakuba is one of the Primary schools in Busedde Sub County. It relies on meagre funding from the government and parents in the community. After the first phase of the project, the school became model in the region due to improved performance of the candidate class. The school staff testified that the help provided by the club greatly boosted their work through increased availability of scholastic materials such as text books, teacher guides and improved attendance of adolescent girls due to improved menstrual hygiene.

Using ideas I got from the second workshop, I planned better for phase 2 of the project which was implemented in April 2018. I thought about how to utilise the remaining four pillars. I thought about how to involve new and relevant partners to make our project more impactful yet affordable. It was time to expand the project.

The project committee got the teachers, local community leaders and parents more involved by asking them to take accountability of donated items such as text books and to monitor the progress of the pupils’ performance so as to tackle the issue of a well-functioning government.

Among the partners involved includes a radio station (Busoga FM) which uses the local language of the target community. This helped us in disseminating information to relevant stake holders and in creating a stronger feeling of involvement and belonging amongst community members. By doing this, we were able to address free flow of information.

By embarking on completing construction of two classrooms, we have been able to address more pillars of peace. We purchased construction materials from the local businesses to increase the local income levels and economy, thereby promoting equitable distribution of resources. Further, we are promoting a sound business environment by improving the income levels of households whose members are involved in construction trade and work.

Construction has helped to promote high level of human capital by providing more learning space to accommodate more interested pupils from the community to learn new skills. Education is an important key in empowering a new cohort.

After the second workshop, we entered phase two

We introduced a medical camp to promote acceptance of the rights of others by providing a free opportunity for community members to access quality medical care. In

Achieving low levels of corruption has been addressed by labeling the donated items as well as tasking parents, teachers and local community leaders to to be accountable for donated scholastic materials. One of the club members visits the project site on almost a bi-weekly basis to monitor the state of the site. This also ensures the resources can be allocated strategically.

Good relations with neighbours have been further promoted by introduction of an extra cup of porridge at a free cost for every pupil as well as planting fruit trees. Introduction of extra porridge has yielded immediate results by reducing the number of cases of pupils escaping from school to trespass into the neighbours’ gardens in search of something to eat due to hunger. The addition of the porridge program lead to a reduction of hunger, which improved learning outcomes, leading to increased levels of human capital.

As the fruit trees mature, we will see an increased success in this project as more fruit becomes available.

The success of this project majorly depends on the sacrifice of like-minded youths, Rotarians and partners who have accepted to offer their professional services at a subsidised fee but mostly free of charge.

There is so much that our limited resources can do for so many people in the world.

Kakuba Literacy project has created an opportunity for adolescent girls to embrace their femininity, pupils to stay longer and happier in school on a daily basis, teachers to deliver better education, parents and children to dress in a more dignified way and an entire community to have more educated and healthy members.