Occasionally, a sponsor will ask, “How long do I sponsor my child? Until they are 18?” And, we encourage sponsors to consider the vast difference between education in Uganda and education in the USA. We tend to think of someone as an “adult” who can entirely care for themselves by a government determined legal age of 18. Yet realistically, even in the USA, 18 year olds are still working on their education or training to better provide for themselves in today’s world. In Uganda, the expectation of 18 year olds caring for themselves when they haven’t even finished secondary school (High School) is entirely unrealistic.
The Ugandan school system is modeled after the British system with seven years of primary school, four years of secondary to receive an ordinary diploma, then two years of secondary to receive an advanced diploma for admission to a university. Or, students can pursue vocational school as an alternative to the last two years of secondary school. Considering how competitive schooling can be and the lack of support students may have at home, it becomes very difficult for the average student to complete school even before 19, let alone 18 years of age.
Our mission is to see all of our students through their education regardless of age, as long as they are putting forth the effort to learn and do well. We have compassion and grace for our students who are coming from the most vulnerable homes and most likely are the first in their families to graduate from secondary school. We believe that every year we can keep the students in school will benefit them, their families and their community in the long run.
Statistically, 50% of Ugandans who do not have an education live below the International Poverty Line of $1.90 per day. 79% of Ugandans who have any secondary education at all live above the poverty line, and 96% of Ugandans with any post secondary education live above the poverty line (World bank using Global Monitoring Device, http://povertydata.worldbank.org/poverty/home/ ). This clearly demonstrates that education does promote development rather than dependency.
When I was last in Uganda, I heard testimonies from several of our students at Amazing Grace Secondary School, located in an extremely impoverished, rural area plagued by years of tribal conflict and famine. The common theme is that staying in school has kept them from the devastating paths of other youth who have not had such opportunities.
One young man said, “The boys from my village are now drinking, using drugs and getting into fights all the time because they have nothing else to do. Staying in school has shown me that I can have a better life than that.”
Another young woman said, “All of the girls from my village are already married or have given birth. I do not want this for my life yet. I must complete my schooling first.” 14% of teens have babies before the age of 19, setting them up to drop out of school and repeat the cycle of poverty (Who, 2018). You can watch Mercy’s compelling story here.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the world’s poverty has doubled since the 1990’s. It is predicted that by 2030, 90% of the world’s poor will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to ODI (Overseas Development Institute), investing in education has potential to improve the situation threefold, rather than commodity driven economic growth. Commodity driven economic growth (energy and mineral resources) produces capital but not necessarily employment.
In order for people to rise above their circumstances, they need opportunities, opportunities Hope Africa International can provide. For example, one of our young women from our Kapchorwa region will be graduating from nursing school in June (along with four other students) because of sponsorship. Her family was devastated by the loss of their livelihood when they were terrorized by cattle raiders multiple times. When Hope Africa heard of their situation, little Rebecca was sponsored to go to school. Today, her heart is to demonstrate the love of Christ to her patients whom she loves to serve. You can also watch her story here!
Sponsorship is a privilege, allowing us to engage with children who are gifted, intelligent, and ready to reach their potential. You can partner with us in bringing hope to a vulnerable child, giving them the opportunity of a lifetime!