Education in Teso

 

 

Background

Soroti Diocese was created out of the Upper Nile Diocese in 1961. It has itself given birth to Karamoja Diocese in 1972 and Kumi Diocese in 2001. It currently has 5 archdeaconries and 50 parishes, covering the five administrative districts of Soroti, Serere, Kaberamaido, Amuria and Katakwi. Between 40 and 50% of the total population in these districts belong to the Anglican church. The Anglican Church in the area has founded over 276 primary schools, 31 secondary schools and other post-primary institutions and over 10 health clinics. The diocese is led by a bishop and a team of 82 staff spread over five departments, all of them answerable to the diocesan synod.

The Education Department office serves and supports government efforts in the provision of education and is actively involved in the management and administration of its institutions within the diocese. Being committed to the gospel values of humility, love and honesty, the office strives to realize its vision of an enlightened, skilled and productive Christian community.

Challenges of education in Teso

Education in Teso has been and continues to be a major casualty of conflict.  During the periods of insurgency, school infrastructure was destroyed, teachers fled to other regions for safety and also to seek greener pastures, pupils and their communities were displaced, school management and administration broke down, there was a shortage of instructional material.  These ills, together with problems of access, have manifested themselves in the poor performance of the education sector in Teso.  We have witnessed record low enrolment, high drop-out rates among pupils, with 73% of girls and 70% of boys not completing primary seven, an increasing number of untrained teachers in schools, poor grades (with Teso commonly among the country’s worst-performing regions), the closure of some schools, and community apathy towards education1.

Uganda is considered a success story with the recent achievements in primary school enrolment following the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997 and Universal Secondary Education in 2006.  UPE is a top priority in the country.  In Teso since the start of UPE the enrolment in all primary schools has nearly tripled.  However, there are still many challenges to address in this sector.  Findings from the Uganda National Household Survey 2005/06 indicate that net enrolment levels had stagnated for the previous 15 years, and it is doubtful whether the Millennium Development Goals’ target of achieving 100% enrolment of 6-12 year old children into primary school by 2015 can be realized.  The diocese of Soroti has been actively supplementing the efforts of government through various interventions.

Our interventions

The Education Office works mainly with schools, churches and communities and seeks to enhance learning in congregations and the community at large.  We are involved in the physical development of educational institutions (primary and secondary schools, tertiary and vocational institutions, student hostels), in the training of teachers and school managers, in the promotion of Christian moral values, attitudes and discipline through chaplaincy and pastoral work in schools, in promoting non-formal education (adult literacy, peace, justice and reconciliation education, and HIV/Aids awareness), in child sponsorship for orphans and other vulnerable children, and in other activities as elaborated below.

Training of Sunday school teachers

Out of 600 churches in the diocese, only 36 have children’s churches or Sunday schools and the cause is mainly lack of teachers.  This year we were able to train 60 Sunday school teachers from 46 churches.  There is need to roll out training to other churches since Sunday school is the foundation level of any church, and churches that don’t train the young children will dry out and collapse with time due to lack of continuity.  Our plan is for 600 teachers to be trained, at least one from each of the 600 churches of the diocese.

Training of lay chaplains

Of the 276 primary and 31 post-primary institutions in the diocese, we have chaplains in only 35, 10 ordained and 25 lay.  The Education Act 2008 mandates the church to take full responsibility for the moral and spiritual upbringing of learners and teachers in church institutions.  This year we trained and deployed lay chaplains in 25 primary and secondary schools which lacked chaplains.  We plan to train and deploy another 150 chaplains (ordained or lay) in the coming year.

Student conferences and school outreach

The upcoming generation needs the gospel and salvation, and we use our mandate to reach schools with the gospel through music, dance, drama, teaching and preaching so that many young people come into contact with the saving grace of Jesus Christ and make a commitment to love and follow God. There is much influence on young people to misuse drugs, alcohol, sex, or music. This year we held three conferences, reaching over 3000 youth in and out of school.  We also held two school missions, reaching 35 schools, with 3450 students giving their lives to Christ out of nearly 17000 who heard the message.  More missions are planned, with the first two in May and July 2015.   We plan to reach out with the gospel to 32,000 learners in 56 institutions, praying that at least 5000 of them will commit their lives to Christ in 2015.

Bursary sponsorship scheme for formal education and skills training The high level of poverty makes it difficult for many children, especially girls, to access quality education.  Most of them look to the church and other NGOs to give bursaries and scholarships. Sponsorship thus becomes one of our major intervention areas so as to give chances to the disadvantaged to get quality and affordable education.   Our desire is to have annually at least 20 new students receiving post-primary educational support and at least 50 young people out of school and 200 women trained in various skills to encourage income generation and self-reliance.  We currently have 40 students supported in post-primary education while 26 benefitted from skills training and graduated on 1 December 2014. We hope to continue with this programme, and normally have young people trained for six months, and then give each a starter kit or capital to begin their project.

Socio-economic security and empowerment of women

Women play triple roles in society including taking responsibility for their families.  With high levels of illiteracy among Teso women, there is a need to empower them through income-generating activities, training, and village saving and loan associations, using a self-help group approach. We bought the women bicycles to help with marketing their products. This work is being piloted in Soroti district where we have seven self-help groups, mainly Mothers’ Union members. We plan to increase to twenty groups by the end of 2015.

Training and re-tooling of lay readers

The diocese has 600 churches but only a third of them have trained lay readers.  The rest have volunteers taking care of them. The diocese started St Peter’s Theological College to train lay readers but unfortunately most cannot afford to pay fees for their training. There is therefore a need for support. We aim to provide bursaries for training 20 lay readers at UGX300,000 per person per year. They will be trained according to the needs on the ground, based on data from the Diocesan Secretary’s office.

Appeal

We call on you to support us in any way. Choose any area where you feel you want to contribute. Areas needing support include prayer, finance, technical support from volunteers, equipment, and scholastic materials.  We also request you to link us to any body or organization that may be willing to come on board and support us in any area. We believe that for us to fulfil our vision, we need many friends and partners so that ‘Together Each Achieves More’; we need a T E A M because, as Jesus said, the harvest is plentiful but the harvesters are few.  We are praying that God sends more harvesters into the field of Soroti Diocese.

1 JAC strategic plan 2006-2010

The Revd Samuel Ediau is the Diocesan Education Coordinator for Soroti Diocese