Six Ugandan Women in UK Intervene in Girl Child Education in Kitgum

2110 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
Pamela Ayero Okwir, the team leader of The Okwir Foundation says that the fierce fight for girls’ education in this society started in 2012.

Six Ugandan women from the same family based in the United Kingdom have teamed up to support girl child education in Mucwini sub county in Kitgum district. They are Pamela Ayero Okwir, Christine Abalo Okwir, Cissy Adong Okwir, Dyna Okwir, Constant Odongtoo Odur and Charles Ochen Okwir. 
 
The women returned to support young women with scholarships to attend school and vocational training for economic empowerment for better livelihoods. United under ‘The Okwir Foundation (TOF)’, the daughters of Mucwini say they have been touched by stories of young girls during out of school due to early marriage, lack of sanitary materials and long distances to schools among others.

Pamela Ayero Okwir, the team leader of The Okwir Foundation says that the fierce fight for girls’ education in this society started in 2012. She says they intend to set up a Center of Excellence at Akara Primary School inspire parents to send and sustain more young women at school.

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The group is already transporting home learning aids and volunteer teachers from the United Kingdom to try and teach pupils at Akara Primary school some Basic English language skills - in a desperate move to have them pass their exams. Nancy Lanyero, one of the beneficiaries says she is studying motor vehicle mechanic with the help of the Foundation. She says she had no hope of a better future until the foundation elevated her from repairing bicycles at Mucwini Sub County.

Lanyero says she could not continue her formal education due to lack of scholastic materials. To support the stay of girls in schools, the foundation is awarding scholarships to best performing students and the needy to enable them progress to the next class every year. Support to this community comes against the backdrop that Mucwini Sub County was the scene of the historic July 2002 massacre in which 56 people were killed by fighters of brutal rebel Lord’s Resistance Army.

Pamela Ayero says with Education, this bitter history will be rewritten. She argues that education is the ultimate engine that prevents a slip back into the traumatic past by thrusting society forward.

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Since the daughters of Mucwini intervened in the education of this community in 2012, there are some impressive results on the ground. A young woman has graduated in Mechanical engineering and others with Diploma in Nursery and Primary Teachers’ Education Courses. Community members are enthusiastic about the initiative.

Okello C. Celsius, a Catechist in Mucwini Parish says Akara Primary School was the biggest victim of the war in the sub county. Okello says with up to three young men killed by the LRA in one of its classrooms, choosing the School to host the center of excellence, with a cultural heritage museum will go a long way in healing the society broken by massacre.

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Some of the learning aids and text books were locally procured for compliance with the country’s curriculum and syllabus. They include a talking lee pad for teaching children reading and proper pronunciations, books of facts and text books. Celest Odonga Lamakio, the Kitgum District Education Officer says girls’ education in Kitgum district still faces such as the negative parental attitude towards girls’ education.

Lamakio says his office will still send in some educationists to assess the quality of the scholastic materials The Okwir Foundation donated to Akara Primary School for compliance with the country’s education curriculum and syllabus.

Some youth are already converging in Akara Primary School to learn their roots. They play the big drums with bare palms and hit hard at the hemispherical calabashes with bundles of bicycle spokes to produce tunes to which they happily dance in circles. This is one of the Laraka Raka Dance they are performing to entertain the ambassadors of good will.

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The youth told the group of women to show them how they can forget their past and focus on the future. With lots of vigor, the young women and men are determined to get on the launch pad and pursue their deferred dreams, thanks to the prevailing peace.
 
 

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.