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Can you briefly share your thoughts on public education in Uganda, specifically in Nakivale, the resettlement area you serve?  Uganda promotes free primary education yet I understand students are required to pay various fees to attend.  Perhaps school isn’t an option for these children.  They may be needed to work. 

Education is a challenge for refugees. The UN ensures that schools are built in the settlement, but in a settlement as large as Nakivale, the kids may have to walk pretty far on very dusty roads in the dry season and very muddy roads (and often in the pouring rain) during the rainy season. Then there is the challenge that many families need the children to stay home so they can work in the fields, herd the family goats and cows, or take care of younger siblings. An entire family living on less than $1 a day sometimes requires every member participate for survival.

If the kids are lucky enough to be able to attend, they face additional challenges. Sometimes the teachers don’t show up, and while the education is supposed to be free, there are teachers who demand “fees” before the students can enter the classroom. I’ve even heard of teachers sending letters home to the families explaining that the children must bring money to cover the teachers’ transportation costs to the school and cost of lunch! This is very illegal but… it’s done and many parents believe the letters or are afraid to report them.

So, yes, education is a challenge here and needs prayers! A good education is probably the best hope for refugees to be able to rebuild their lives.

Love, Karen