The Real Uganda’s Girls Get Skills practical skills training program launched in September 2021 with much enthusiasm from the mothers and daughters of Lugacraft Kiteza Rural Women’s Group, in Buikwe District, Uganda.
As schools in Uganda have been closed for the better part of 2 years, rural teen girls have been kept close to home. While this may keep them safe from sexual exploitation, taking care of younger siblings all day moves them right into assuming home making roles.
With no viable skills.
The Real Uganda offers 2 – 12 week locally-led communty-based volunteer programs.
Young rural women in Uganda don’t have consistent control over their lives. They go where they’re told to go and do what they’re told to do. In many cases, they’re simply raised to become someone’s wife. Upon reaching high school, formal classroom education is found to be of poor quality and irrelevant, considering the daily demands of housekeeping, child care, and the garden. (Makerere University School of Health Sciences, 2019, Young African Leaders Initiative, 2021) The biggest reason high school girls in Uganda leave school? Pregnancy (Government of Uganda, 2012).
Before COVID-19 closed our schools, secondary school dropout rates had actually been on the rise. Dropout rates for lower secondary in Uganda doubled from 18% in 2013 to 37% in 2016. To compare, Rwanda’s rates fell from 34% to 16% (The Daily Monitor, 2020, citing UNESCO).
Ugandan girls, like their counterparts all over the world, want to be protected, and keep their brains active and days fun and interesting. Research shows access to handicraft skills, social skills, and sexual reproductive health information all go a long way toward securing bright futures for Uganda’s young women (Nabugoomu, 2019, Borgen Project, 2018).
The Real Uganda wants to get behind that.
And that’s why over 30 young women, aged 13 to 18, are currently learning hair care and styling techniques that will help them earn money, no matter where their futures take them. Yes: Girls Get Skills!
GoAbroad Foundation is happily processing tax deductible donations via PayPal, on our behalf. Thanks to quite a number of small (and not so small!) donations from former volunteers and well-wishers, our open air beauty school is secured until December 2021.
For now, the girls are masking up, asking TONNES of questions, and getting their hands into each other’s hair. It’s absolutely wonderful to see them so engaged.
Girls Get Skills combines practical skills with social skills and sexual reproductive education to ensure the girls have a full toolbox to build productive and meaningful lives.
The main takeaways from our first social skills and sexual education workshops include:
•Collaborate with friends who make positive decisions and take positive actions
•Don’t pass up any opportunity, have a plan, set personal goals
•Don’t make excuses, don’t listen to that negative inner voice, practice persistence
•Personal and menstrual hygiene are important, shower daily
•Love what you do and don’t undervalue any job
•You can even get pregnant if you have sex during menstruation
•Trust yourself and be aware that men and boys can lie to lure you into casual sex
•Be creative, learn new things
•Know why you’re doing things
•Look boys in the eye and tell them firmly “no” and then tell them why
•Don’t listen to discouraging words
•If you’ve done something poorly, don’t worry, you’ll be better next time
•Be principled, decisive, determined, and brilliant!
These are early days for Girls Get Skills. We’re looking forward to seeing where things go. Here are a few hints about the future:
1. These initial 30+ girls will complete their practical (and social/sexual) course, with the 10 best receiving a ‘start-up’ kit of appropriate treatments and tools to get them earning right away.
2. Leadership will decide whether to offer the program to another 30 girls in the same village, move to another near-by community so as not to saturate Kiteza with salon skills, or deepen the experience by extending the training to the existing set of girls.
3. A cookie and cake baking skills training will begin!
Our ultimate Girls Get Skills program goals are to avoid early marriage and teen pregnancy, and increase confidence and effective decision-making in the young women we’re working with. We’ll also be watching to ensure they’re able to earn a sustained weekly income with the skills they’re taught.
We can’t wait to see what the future brings.
Ensure this transformative skills training program continues into 2022.
The Borgen Project, 2018 https://borgenproject.org/girls-education-in-uganda/
Government of Uganda, Ministry of Education, 2012 http://www.education.go.ug/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Dropout-Report-in-USE-schools-2012.pdf
Josephine Nabugoomu, 2019. Education Journal https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336517654_School_Dropout_in_Rural_Uganda_Stakeholder_Perceptions_on_Contributing_Factors_and_Solutions
Makerere University, College of Health Sciences, 2019 https://acres.or.ug/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/final-causes-of-school-drop-out.pdf
Young African Leaders Initiative, 2021 https://yali.state.gov/five-ways-to-keep-girls-in-school/ (website view, September 16, 2021)