Uganda has a population of approximately 40 million people according to the 2014 Population Census. The population of orphans is estimated to 15% of the total population of Uganda. The number of vulnerable and disadvantaged children is not known as the definition of these categories of children varies from person to person. With vulnerable and disadvantaged children may mean children under broken families, with both parents but suffering from abject poverty, slum dwellers etc.
The population demographic structure of Uganda is characterized by many children and youths accounting for more than 60% of the total population. The characteristics of such a pyramidal population structure is their total dependency on the country, families or households, guardians or child care givers, organizations for recourses putting a lot of financial and social pressure for their growth and capacity building.
The Ugandan government is dodged with serious budgetary constraints arising from the structure of the economy that is predominantly peasantry with almost no industrial development as indicated by our agricultural contribution to GDP that is very high. Education funding by budgetary allocation is very low. The education structure in Uganda is formal education i.e. Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) where the two are free and compulsory. One would think there is therefore no need whatsoever for other institutions or individuals to support care for the education needs in Uganda.
The compulsory and free education program in Uganda had good intentions with less reality, implemented too soon or quickly without proper development of infrastructure leading to over congestion. The child classroom ratio could be the highest in Africa, some instances 200 pupils attend one class with two or one teacher; under paid with approximately $50 dollars and $100 dollars for primary and secondary teachers respectively. Long distances travelled by children with no meals provided.
Uganda could be the only country where children study on empty stomachs in government UPE and USE schools. The results are poor performance, high school dropout rates for primary and secondary schools, half baked grandaunts. The problem is aggravated by lack of properly developed vocational schools to tap and integrate the talents to develop skills of children.
The high education resource gap in Uganda has been filled by the private schools accounting for over 40%. Better equipped with motivated teachers but driven entirely by profit and ever not beneficial to vulnerable or orphaned children who lack support. The disintegrating African socialism where resources and responsibilities towards weaker members of society were catered for by next of kin, guardians has added insult on injury.
The African extended family philosophy is being replaced by nuclear family approaches due to western influence. Competitive demand for resources due to increase in population growth, increase in number of children arising from HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda that virtually wiped away the breadwinners has made matters worse. Statistics show that of the many school dropouts, illiterate children, the orphans, vulnerable children account for the greatest percentage.
The problem of children support is not only in their education support, rather they also manifest in:-
- Clothing and beddings
- Early marriages
- Child abuse
New Life Child Support Program has been developed to find a readdress to mitigate the peculiar needs of this child category to provide:-
- education Support through education school fees sponsorship.
- building Capacity of the child care givers, the single mothers, guardians and institutionalized child care givers.
- financial support to improve their households. Incomes that is assumed to trickle down to children under their care.
provide an effective integrated education formal program through constructing institutionalized kindergarten Primary Secondary schools to absorb scholarship aunts and talented children who cannot go ahead with formal education ladder.