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VALIDATION OF THE SPONSORSHIP PROGRAMME FOR SPONSORING CHILDREN UGANDA

GEORGE OMONA

DATED 24TH OCTOBER 2008

 

 

1.0. Introduction.

 

Sponsoring Children Uganda (SCU) still supports 1,400 children affected by armed conflict in Northern Uganda, out of 3,200 children who have been supported since the start of the programme in 2000, to promote their access to education and successful reintegration. The children are assisted with tuition fees, hostels fees, scholastic materials, examination fees and school uniforms.

 

Seventy schools have been selected from Nursery, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Institutions. These tended to be the best schools in the region and understandably some are very expensive. SCU is committed to providing the best education to the vulnerable sectors of the population and has so far spent about 670 million Uganda shillings in 2008 to cover school uniforms, scholastic materials, tuition, examinations, and boarding fees.

 

SCU made a strategic choice to pay the fees for the whole year in April 2008 to reduce administrative costs. While this was well intentioned, it did not anticipate the increases in the fees due to high food crisis that affected many countries in Africa including Uganda. A number of schools have already made requests for additional payments in the course of the year. SCU in response commissioned this rapid validation exercise to get a better picture of the trends in the fees increases and to assess the budget implication. SCU Management needed further clarifications for justification to the Board.

 

2.0 Objective of the mission.

 

The validation exercise was intended to achieve the following objectives:

 

  • To gain a better understanding of the fees increases and trends for policy formulation.

  • To confirm the requests for additional payments from the schools records.

  • To monitor the school attendance of the children in the sponsorship programme.

 

3.0 Scope of the work.

 

The key task of the Consultant was to get a quick feed back from the 24 schools based on the requisitions for additional payments. The Consultant visited 20 schools (Gulu 9, Pader 4, Lira 8, Soroti 5, Katakwi 1 and Kumi 1) in seven days. Discussions were held with the Head teachers of the schools. Most of them seem to be very close to the children in the program and know them even by names.

 

The children in the program in each school were called together for roll call and debriefed by the Consultant. The records with the School Bursars were then verified to confirm the amount due for every child.

 

 

  1. Findings of the validation exercise.

 

The Consultant was very positive about the sponsorship programme despite the challenges associated with such programmes. There was no material problem that could attract serious concerns from the Management and Board of Sponsoring Children Uganda except for the following observations.

 

  • SCU after remitting payments for the whole year did not anticipate any increases later.

  • The food crisis that hit most parts of Africa led to increase in food prices and in responding to this, most Parent Teachers’ Associations raised their PTA contributions. Understandably the children in the programme have been affected and the schools are looking at SCU to put up the burden. Other schools decided that the children should bring food in kind. This has been the case in Rachele Comprehensive Secondary School and Lira Integrated School. While in Gulu College, they decided not to charge the increases on the children in the programme. (See a sample of Letters to parents attached for your reference).

  • Another source for the claims has been administrative. Apparently some children were missed out in the list of payments that were made earlier this year and the schools are making the claims, especially in the case of Gulu College, Uganda Technical College, Lira Integrated School. These have been indicated as new children in the programme.

  • The records in some schools needed to be harmonised especially that of Uganda Technical College, Lira. They are making additional claims that were not reflected in the payment schedule. The names of three students could not be traced from the records with the Bursar. Since the year one students are for holidays, it could not be confirmed whether they are in the College or not. The records with the Bursar revealed that Olanya Anthony had not been included in the present list for payments. His request form for admission provided by the Education Officer was collected and is attached. (See the letter of request for admission attached). Discussions later with the Education Officer clarified that there was and error in issuing the request form. Anthony had already completed his ‘A’ Level and was not legible for support under the programme.

  • Some children have dropped out of the programme due to pregnancies among the girls (St Lwanga Kalongo 1, Soroti Demonstration 1) and 3 have been dismissed due to gross indiscipline (Madera Boys 2, Lira Integrated School 1).

  • Some children have dropped out due to physical ill health with common chronic bullet wounds.

  • Erongu Moses of Katakwi Primary School (Ref. 1690) passed his PLE and is now in secondary school So the payment for Katakwi should be less by 87,500=.

  • During the debriefing with Management of SCU, it was agreed that certain school requirements like field trips, holiday classes medical and food in kind are difficult to cover due to uncertainties in planning and budget difficulties. They are therefore considered eligible costs under the sponsorship programme.

  • Some children in the programme still have difficulty in getting accepted in the community.

 

Case study  

Okello Joseph is in P.5 at Madera Boys Boarding Primary School. He was adopted by a family after being abandoned before his abduction. The guardian was only interested in raising him to look after his cattle. Apparently they are not interested in his education. When he returned home in the first term from school, they confiscated his mattress and books. Okello escaped from home and returned to school. The family has since relocated to Masindi district and could not be traced. Okello has been staying in the school during the holidays for the last two terms.

 

 

Payment requests for the following schools were confirmed as correct based on the school records and recommended for payments:

 

1. Lira District

 

  • Lira Integrated School

  • Fountain Boarding School

  • St Francis Primary Boarding School.

  • Human Technical l Development Training School

  • Bright Light College.

  • Rachele Comprehensive Secondary School.

  • Uganda Technical College

 

2. Gulu District

 

  • Pece Primary School

  • Bishop Angelo Negri College

  • Gulu High School

  • Koch Goma Secondary School

  • Gulu Senior Secondary School

  • Flora Vocational School

  • Unity Vocational Training School

  • Sir Samuel Baker School

  • Highland Primary school

  • Gulu Central High School

  • Alliance High School

 

 

Pader District

 

  • Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Primary School.

  • Oert Technical School

  • ST. Charles Lwanga College

  • ABC Primary School Rackoko

 

Soroti District

 

  • Soroti Demonstration Primary School

  • Madera Boys Boarding Primary School

  • St. Mary’s SS Madera

  • Uganda Martyrs Vocational School

  • Uganda College of Commerce, Soroti.

 

Katakwi District

 

  • Katakwi Primary School.

 

Kumi District

 

  • Ngora High School

 

 

5.0 Recommendation

 

  • SCU need to come out with a clear policy on which elements of the school requirements are legible for support.

  • Develop clear messages for use by the Education Officer to avoid raising expectations that can not be met by the Sponsorship programme.

  • Most of the fees structure is above the 500,000 Uganda shillings thresholds. SCU need a policy guideline for educating the back door sponsors of SCU in the face of global financial crisis.

  • Children in the programme need to be educated to make them aware of the limitations of the sponsorship programme to avoid unnecessary expectations.

  • The family plays a critical role in the education and in the normalisation of the lives of children affected by armed conflict. They have the obligations towards the education of their children, a fact that must be confronted if the programme is to be sustainable. The parents need to increasingly begin to take responsibilities in meeting some of the school requirements.

 

 

6. Conclusion.

 

The validation exercise was limited in scope to gain a better understanding of the fees increases due to food prices. A deeper study looking at the effectiveness of the programme in promoting access to education for children affected by armed conflict and their reintegration will be dealt with later. The initial feedback is that the Head teachers do appreciate the sponsorship programme for its timely payment of children in the programme. The Head teachers seem to be very close to the children and know most of them by name. Although some have been dismissed due to indiscipline, most of the children are coping well. Some drop outs have been noticed and this will further be explored in the second phase of the study.

 

 

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