Child Rights Clubs in Loco, Wandago and Masese I slum communities in Uganda give children the opportunity to express themselves and play an active role in their communities, campaigning and advocating for change.
Working closely with the adult members of the Child Protection Teams in their communities, the focus for the Child Rights Clubs in recent months has been on education and encouraging children to get back to school after lockdown. Find out what they have been up to below...
Schools were closed in Uganda for nearly two years throughout the pandemic, and since opening again early in 2022, many children have not returned to the classroom. There are many reasons for this, including sickness, the death of parents, children joining gangs, using drugs, child labour, pregnancy or the lack of sanitary pads along with financial barriers such as being unable to afford school fees or supplies.
Across all three Child Rights Clubs, 39 members took part in workshops, looking at the impact of COVID 19 on education and how they could work together with their local Child Protection Teams to increase enrolment as well as attendance in school after lockdown.
They looked at the reasons that it’s important to stay in school, the impact of dropping out and discussed ways in which they can advocate for education in the community by going door to door, going to churches, using village radios and in day to day conversation.
After several education awareness sessions with children in Loco, most went back to school when they reopened, apart from a small number whose parents struggled with fees. The Child Protection Team in the community counselled five child mothers to return to school, and encouraged the parents to support the girls to carry on with their learning. Two of these girls have already gone back to class and one is waiting for her mother to save the fees.
Throughout lockdown, Loco Child Rights Club (CRC) have been working hard to help their peers make safer choices. They decided to act after realising that a number of girls in their community had resorted to chasing after boys because they didn’t have enough to eat at home.
Many of the older teenage boys around 15 -20 years old had a little money spare from fishing, so they were enticing younger girls to go and talk with them by buying them chips and Rolex (Ugandan rolled egg chapatis).
When the Child Rights Club members saw this happening, they informed the Loco Child Protection Team (CPT), who organised a planning meeting in early December on how to solve the problem. They agreed to talk with the girls on the potential problems of having relationships at too young an age, with the CPT taking responsibility to talk to children aged 13-17 years old, and the Child Rights Club talking with those aged 12 years and under.
Club members spent the whole of December 2021 working with the girls in their community and soon after, the Chairperson of Loco local council recognised their work by saying that many children had started changing their behaviour for the better and girls had begun to stay safe at home instead of loitering at night.
In a community workshop the following month, he said “I never thought a child could make a difference in someone’s life until I saw it here with the Child Rights Club”.
As well as encouraging their peers to go back to school, the Child Rights Club members have been working hard to look after their physical surroundings too. Wandago child rights members recently planted 15 fruit trees at Wandago Child Friendly Space, and Masese I child rights club members planted 30 trees at two primary schools in their area.
The child rights club members in Loco organised a community cleaning day during the holidays.