Led by Field Workers Russell and Jenny Barton, Operation Uganda works with vulnerable children, their families and schools in communities throughout northern Uganda and in Kampala, the nation’s capital. Many families in these areas are living in extreme poverty, working as subsistence farmers or in unskilled jobs. The high level of poverty across these areas has many detrimental impacts on child health and development.
While most policies, laws and standards designed to protect children in Uganda are up-to-date, implementation and enforcement remain weak throughout the country. Government officers for child welfare have been assigned to most areas, however due to a lack of resources, knowledge and training, most officers are ill-equipped or unable to implement the law for the benefit of children. The result is that social services, especially health and education, continue to be functionally weak and social protection is fragmented, with large vulnerable population groups not covered.
In response to this need, Operation Uganda aims to increase access to education for children and improve the capacity of local schools to provide quality education. One particular region in which Operation Uganda work has 13 community schools in operation. These schools typically have little resource, with over-crowded classrooms and sub-standard conditions. Operation Uganda intends to work with several of these schools in the future, providing support that will include:
• The renovation and refurbishment of school facilities.
• Provision of resources such as books and sporting equipment.
• Teacher training by qualified Australian teachers.
• Training and distribution of sanitary items to promote higher school attendance for female students.
Family preservation activities and case management in these communities will further complement the work undertaken in schools. Providing scholarships to children will keep at-risk children in school without being separated from their family and community. Operation Uganda will build resilience in families to create a more stable environment for children, and build capacity in essential social services for which current government resources are stretched too thin.