One lucky parent at Bugabwe early childhood development centre
“We were told that when a child attends pre-primary school, the child performs better in education"
Pulisi Asuman, a father of six in Bugabwe, Iganga District, describes himself as a lucky parent.
Until the Bugabwe Primary School opened up an Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre on its premises, Asuman had never dreamt of having any of his children attend pre-primary school.
The predominantly private ECD centres in Uganda are beyond the reach of most parents like Asuman who earns a meagre living from subsistence farming.
When Bugabwe ECD centre opened, he was one of the parents in the village who caregivers and fellow parents talked to about the benefits of ECD learning. He immediately enrolled his eldest child into baby class in 2017.
In 2019, he also enrolled two children from different mothers into baby class, which he says would have been beyond his means if it were not for the opening of Bugabwe ECD centre in his village.
“We were told that when a child attends pre-primary school, the child performs better in education than one who does not. It gives a child a good foundation in education,”
Bugabwe Primary School is one of the many public schools in Uganda that started ECD centres a couple of years ago. However, the government, citing budgetary constraints, is yet to meet the expenses of the now numerous ECD centres. As a result, parents and other stakeholders have to cover caregiver salaries and other costs.
“We are peasant farmers and our income varies with the seasons depending on the weather. When there is drought, we hardly have any money,” says Pulisi, explaining the difficulty of raising the USh 30,000 fees that the centres charge per term.
The area Local Council Chairman, Ajab Waiswa, says the centre caregiver sensitized the community about ECD learning, and adds that “The community has tried on its own. Parents initially thought it would be free but later realized they have to pay.”
UNICEF supported the Church of Uganda to carry out community dialogues at Bugabwe ECD centre, train caregivers and supply learning materials. The centre also provides integrated ECD services, offering immunization and de-worming. Nawanzu Health Centre, the nearest one to the centre, recently vaccinated 60 children who were present that day when the health workers visited the centre.