The right to education
In Uganda, traditional norms are still widespread. Especially when families cannot afford the costs for their children's education, boys receive more support for schooling and girls tend to be left behind. Young Agnes Mbambu from Kasese district in South-Western Uganda faced this difficult situation.
When Agnes' father died a few years ago, her mother was left to raise her children by herself. Life became difficult and money was in short supply. Finally, Agnes' mother made a decision: Only the elder brother should go to school. Agnes, then fifteen, was forced to drop out of school and stay at home. She hated it.
Agnes' fight, Agnes' right
Some time later, Agnes became involved with the local organisation National Youth Organisation for Development (NAYODE). NAYODE protects reproductive rights and other human rights of adolescent girls in Kasese district. To secure girls' rights to education and self-determination, this organisation raises awareness through community dialogues, drama performances, radio programmes and interpersonal communication.
One of NAYODE's communicators learned about Agnes' situation and helped her to talk to her mother. Things became very difficult, and even the police and local council had to step in until finally Agnes was allowed to return to school.
That day, Agnes says, she understood that she had the right to education.
However, some time later, Agnes' mother again faced financial difficulties and couldn't pay her school fees anymore. Agnes decided to move out of her mother's home and to live with her brother in another sub-county. Again, she appealed to her family to provide the fees for her new school. Again, it was not enough. She had to leave school and was even confronted with unpaid fees of UGX 150,000 which is about 40 Euros. This time, NAYODE went all in and raised money for Agnes, allowing her to return and stay in school. According to her teachers, Agnes is now an ambassador for girls' education in her community and constantly encourages girls to stay in school.
After all these challenges, Agnes still raises her head in determination, because she has a dream:
"I want to become a teacher and I will work hard to ensure this dream comes to pass. Girls' education should be a given, but in many countries it is still a big challenge to convince parents and communities that if their daughters are left behind, they lose too. Because when dreams are crushed, so is hope for the future."
Democratic Governance Facility (DGF)
NAYODE's funding support comes from the Independent Development Fund, a partner organisation of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), a programme set up by the European Union together with Austria and six other development partners in 2011 to foster good governance, the rule of law and democracy in Uganda. For 2017, the EU delegated the management of its funding contribution (7.5 million Euros) for the DGF to the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The programme currently supports more than 70 partners in the country, most of which are civil society organisations.