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2013 VOF Week 3 assignment - Life Skills education a Necessary and un avoidable Component for Girls Education

I was born in a hilly community In south western Uganda. The community a very cold place at the time, barefoot we would walk on our toes because the stones would sting our feet as we went to school. I am from a average home able to survive moderate lives – without plenty but also with enough. My mother primary school teacher and my father a secondary school teacher.

In my family education was a given, all of us were allowed to school till we either passed failed, the sky for us was the limit. However this wasn’t true to many other community families. In Uganda girls are seen merely as meant to be married off and a source of wealth in families. Unless families are empowered to make a different argument, girls are often left out of school to do housework while their brothers go to school or for gainful employment. They are married off at 13, 14 and 15 years of age.

A number of girls have been to school and attained a degree, diploma or even a certificate but for me the biggest barrier to high achievement that I have seen among he women and girls I exchange with is life skills. These are coping skills to help people overcome challenging situations. These schools are many times not taught in school since academics have become the order of the day. Children on rote learning from as early as nursery school. Children do not relate what I learnt with real life but cram to be able to pass exams.

The other big challenge in our formal education for girls is the high drop out rates in primary school. Girls drop out of school more often than boys despite the fact that there is universal primary education. This also has some connection with poor life skills, without which many girls and indeed women continue to live under oppression and abuse

These skills include: assertiveness, - Self awareness, Self esteem, Negotiation, Effective communication, Empathy, Friendship formation, Peer resistance , Coping with emotion/stress, Critical thinking and analysis, Problem solving, Creating thinking, Decision making

These life skills play a big role in as far as they avert fear and promote confidence for girls and women to meeting the challenges as they come. Staying in school longer takes a lot of energy especially among the poor households. Girls have to stand their ground and insist they want to remain in school. Girls especially the older ones stop coming to school due to menstruation and poor sanitation in schools. We have a school in Western Uganda of 700 children using a single latrine that is unisex and multilevel, pupils and teachers, boys and girls, men and women share this toilet.

Many girls cannot withstand this unless they are strong willed and confident to wade the waves. And this skill is often not in born it must be learnt from the family, peers and environment we live in sine in money ecsonomies its survival for the fittest – girls and women must be passionate and fight for their inclusion and protection.

Our effort in the community has been to firstly to mobilize children and train them on life skills during holidays. We also provide technical services to many organizations regarding life skills foe school going and out of school youth but also have been providing the same especially positive parenting skills to primary teachers, young people with HIV, carers and parents of children with HIV. We support these categories of people to understand that education in not only for getting high grades but for better livelihoods. The like skills education is demonstrated on how it utilizes academic staff to ensure a future that is protected

Secondly we mobilize funds for children from poor households to remain in school. We have been currently supporting 25 children in universal primary education and also providing 20 women and children living with HIV with transport to go to hospital for check up and get more ARVs and medicines. Parents contribute 22 US $ per child in school. We have been meeting this cost for these children. However in on March 7th 2013 the donor Dr. Kaori Izumi (RIP) from Japan and human rights defender for a long time in Eastern and Southern Africa attached to UN FAO Southern Africa passed on and therefore the continuity of these children education and access to health services lies in limbo.

In Uganda laws to ensure children access school are in place but the enforcement has been ill managed, the country is rocked with high levels of corruption and the laissez faire attitude in most government law enforcement agencies, so we are looking for other ways of challenging the status quo in exposing children to life skills education as early as possible to build them into strong assertive, confident and able to make critical decisions in the future.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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LisaXi's picture

On the Right Track

Such a well written journal entry. Thank you for sharing the multitude of barriers that girls face in Uganda, and for sharing some of the local solutions your community has put into place, as it appears these may be the initial building blocks to creating social change there. I agree that the life skills you've noted:

Self awareness
Self esteem
Effective communication
Friendship formation
Peer resistance
Coping with emotion/stress
Critical thinking and analysis
Problem solving
Creating thinking
Decision making

are of the utmost importance in empowering girls and giving them the confidence to push through barriers and persevere.

Thank you for raising your voice and sharing your experiences. We need more change leaders like you, because together we can and will create more opportunities for young women.

Beverly Rose's picture

So many thoughts go through

So many thoughts go through my mind as I read your wonderrful post. First of all, thank you for writing and sharing. Whether it be Uganda, Parkistan, or the US (though perhaps not quite as blatant), young women and girls will have to give up their education for a number of reasons. Although many years ago, my Mother dropped out of school to go to work, yet the boys remained in school. I was in contact with a young woman from Afghantistan, going to school in an orphanage in Parkistan, who had to drop out to help her family.

You are so righ on when you say that we need life skills - more than book knowledge. Although book knowledge is important, all those other life skills are critical, yet they are what is often missing from the school books.

I applaud you for your efforts in helping children learn what they need to know to not only survive, but thrive. I look forward to reading more from you. Thank you for sharing this.

In peace,

Anna V's picture

The importance of life skills

Your entry made me think about education from a different perspective. Most of the time, I think of education as book learning and discussion, but as you mention, there are so many more aspects to education.

I was especially troubled by your statement that menstruating girls leave school due to combined lavatories and lack of sanitation and privacy. I had never thought about that before. It is sad to me that a sanitary private restroom could make such a large difference.

Thank you for sharing!

Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti's picture


A very well-written and articulate post! Thank you, Flavia, for your insight and wisdom. I particularly found your point about the practical limitations of hygiene as a roadblock to girls' education interesting, troubling, but also indicating a well-focused area for improvement. You write strongly and clearly, with personal flair and with intelligence. I enjoyed this post greatly!

All my best,

flaviakyomukama's picture


Thanks for the response. we need to share more about girls education

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