Sir, – St Patrick’s Day had brought recognition of the impact Ireland has on the world. Here in Kampala in Uganda that is clearly seen in the education programmes supported by the Irish Government. The partnership between the governments of Uganda and Ireland and Unicef (the UN Children’s Fund) is a key focus of my work here.
Unicef and the Embassy of Ireland in Uganda focus their support on the most marginalised and deprived children. The people of Karamoja region to the northeast are undergoing an enormous transition from pastoralism to integration into the modern economy. Education is an important enabler. Unicef works with the Ugandan government and partners to improve outcomes for children across 300 schools by supporting quality education programmes.
When the partnership was formed in 2016, 88 per cent of children were dropping out of primary school. Unicef and Irish Aid – the Irish Government’s programme for overseas development – are tackling the causes, including gender norms. In three years, the numbers enrolled in school have increased by 29,000 while the drop-out rate has fallen 8 per cent.
The education system has been strengthened by improving the capacity of government agencies, by partnering with faith-based and non-governmental organisations, and by working with parents. Special attention is paid to the education of girls, since the benefit of this is intergenerational.
Training teachers, talking to the community, establishing clubs and making school environments child-friendly have been key steps on the road to success.
More children are continuing on to post-primary but we still have work to do to ensure that every child can access a quality education in order to thrive, rather than simply survive.
Unicef, as the UN children’s agency, is committed to achieving rights for every child just as Ireland’s development policy is committed to leaving no one behind. We are proud to partner on delivering breakthrough change for children and look forward to celebrating future successes. – Yours, etc,