Education Expo Gathers 2,000 in Pursuit of Quality Education
February 27, 2009
Under the banner of “Education, a Key to Regional Integration,” the Creative Associates-implemented UNITY project along with the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports, and other partners, co-sponsored an exposition in Kampala that gathered top education officials from Uganda and Rwanda.
The event showcased opportunities for achieving quality education, supporting public and private sector partnerships, and accelerating the education sector response to HIV/AIDS. Up to 2,000 people attended the December expo, including Ugandan President, H.E. Yoweri Museveni, who officially launched “The Accelerated Response to HIV/AIDS” initiative and gave keynote remarks.
President Museveni also took the opportunity to present the “HIV Readers,” a package of 12 books that are both entertaining and educational for school children (Grades 5 to 7) to help instill messages on preventing and mitigating HIV/AIDS.
The Creative-led UNITY project, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing the 717,580 books that comprise the “HIV Readers.” The books, have been delivered to 9,980 Ugandan schools in 64 districts, and include age-appropriate messages and a variety of activities to help deliver life skills. In addition, 30,000 Teacher Training Manuals are being distributed to serve as a resource to help teachers use the “HIV Readers” in the classroom.
UNITY is the acronym for the Ugandan Initiative for TDMS (Teacher Development Management System) and PIASCY (Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communicating to Young People). The three-year program launched in 2006 is being implemented along with local partners including the Pincer Group, Straight Talk Foundation, Madrasa Resource Center, and Aga Khan Foundation. The project’s overarching goals are to improve the quality of basic education, prevent and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS at the primary and post primary levels, and develop a customized educational support program for areas in the north and northeast that have been severely affected by a violent and protracted conflict.
In her remarks at the event, UNITY’s Chief of Party, Renuka Pillay, explained the research and design objectives and implementation strategy of the REPLICA program, which is one component of UNITY. REPLICA, which stands for the Revitalization of Education Participation and Learning in Conflict Areas, is restoring quality education services for the north and northeast regions of Uganda which have withstood a brutal and bloody conflict involving the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for more than 20 years. Led by Joseph Kony, the LRA has been terrorizing the population, and kidnapping boys and girls to serve as soldiers and slaves.
REPLICA brings six integrated components to rebuild confidence in schools as well as academic performance among pupils: psychosocial care and support; performing arts and learning in schools; girl’s education; community integration; peace education, and leadership and governance. REPLICA is implemented in 13 conflict-affected districts and reaches 1,700 primary schools in the sub-region. REPLICA has been widely recognized in the region as a holistic way to respond to the extraordinary challenges facing students and schools in war-ravaged communities.
“The UNITY Project has a unique opportunity in the implementation of REPLICA Program to make a significant contribution to the post war reconstruction of the North,” Pillay said. Through this education intervention, there is the potential to address in part the scars of the past and HOPE is being reborn in the region.”
Pillay and the UNITY project were commended for their innovation and dedication to education; the project team received two certificates of appreciation from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
— Roseline Tekeu in Washington, D.C. and the UNITY Team in Uganda.