School clubs equipping adolescents with survival skills

Empowering young people

Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye with contributions from Sambey Logira
school clubs
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Nakibuuka
13 August 2018

In two faraway districts of Amudat and Napak, in the Karamoja sub-region, Straight Talk Foundation (STF), has established school clubs which are equipping adolescents with life skills. The skills will enable them survive and thrive in school and after school. To date, 208 UNICEF-supported clubs, in 208 schools in the seven districts of the Karamoja region have been established with financial support from the Irish Aid. The clubs target adolescent aged 10 to 14 years in primary schools and 15 to 20 year olds in secondary schools, with a minimum of 30 members per club.

Through the senior women teachers, the club members are trained on several life skills that include but not limited to self-esteem and assertiveness, how to manage self, how to live with others, peer to peer support, stress management in school and at home because some of them have been living on street and now are back in school. The club members then impart all the skills learnt to the rest of the pupils in their schools and those out of school.

“We have seen tremendous changes among our students. Their engagement in the clubs has helped them learn several things. Before the clubs, they were timid, shy, and lacked confidence. But today, they are disciplined, have obtained leadership skills, and their public speaking has greatly improved,” says Napeyok Betty, Headmistress, Lodoi Primary School, Napak District. “They also participate in radio talk shows, speak with confidence as they disseminate messages to people.”

Peru Hellen from STF and one of the trainers, is excited to talk about the school clubs and the transformation she has seen among the adolescents and how they are impacting communities. “These children are now very organised and creative. After the trainings, many have returned to school and drawn workplans that guide their activities every term.”

The members also compose songs, poems, drama skits, which they utilize to convey messages to fellow pupils, communities, parents and children out of school during community outreaches. They sensitize them on harmful cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation, teenage pregnancy, child marriages, as well as urge them to prioritize education.

“I call my pupils change agents because of the changes I see as a result of their efforts,” 

In Alakas Primary School, Amudat District, the clubs too are doing well. The members move door-to-door encouraging parents to send children to school reminding them that education is the future. As a result some parents have sent their children back to school while some mention that girls should stay home! The testimonies from the club members are very touching.

The club members have also been taught how to make beads, decorations, bangles, belts, walking sticks, which they sell to make some little money. Others have started up vegetable gardens, while many are rearing animals like goats and sheep.  To support their income generating projects, the school administrations are buying the vegetables to supplement on the school food.

“These skills will change their lives forever. They will also utilize them to earn a living after school,” Napayok confirms.

Menstrual hygiene management is another area the members have been sensitized on and also trained to make locally made reusable pads which has addressed absenteeism especially among girls which was very high in many schools.

“Our clubs use some of money earned, to buy scholastics materials and materials like cotton wool, fabric, polythene, etc that are used to make the locally-made reusable pads.” Napayok adds.

Driven by their slogan ‘Start small, grow big’, the club members have been empowered by the skills acquired from the UNICEF-supported clubs and are changing communities. There is therefore no doubt they are called ‘change agents,’ mentioned Sambey Logira, UNICEF Education Officer.