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Ugandan Government Works to Close the Educational Gender Gap

IMG_3883The east African country of Uganda has made strides in educating its children since the 1990s.  The government instituted The Education Strategic Investment Plan in 1998 that, over the following five years, largely supported the country’s Universal Primary Education program.

With a mission to ensure that all Ugandan children enrolled in primary school, which spans the first seven years of the country’s schooling system, Uganda effectively equalized the educational gender gap of past generations that favored male children.

Overall enrollment in Ugandan primary schools rose from just over three million in 1995 to more than 6.5 million in 2003 as a result of the government program.

However, when it comes to progressing into secondary school, Ugandan girls still lag behind boys. A vast difference compared to the United States!

Historically, marriage and/or pregnancy become a factor for many girls between the ages of 13 to 18 – the secondary educational years – that often keeps them from staying in school.  The decision to attend secondary school is also affected by economic concerns, since, unlike primary school, advanced education in Uganda is not free of charge.  If a family cannot afford to send all its children to secondary school, gender may be a consideration when deciding who should attend.

Such scholarship programs as the U.S.-funded  Ambassador’s Girls’ Scholarship and Mentoring  program, established in 2000, have provided rural girls from impoverished families the chance to continue their educations, offering the promise of economic sustainability for coming generations of Ugandans.

IMG_3878However, women who are currently the primary sources of income for their families in Uganda did not have the educational opportunities of girls today.  For these women, many of whom are uneducated and struggling with health issues such as HIV/AIDS, charitable organizations such as SHIVAR – Support HIV/AIDS Victims Rwanda – provide the practical training, mentoring and economic opportunities that the east African women of Uganda and neighboring Rwanda so desperately need.  Through the support of such organizations as SHIVAR and businesses such as Ugandan Merchandise, east African women realize opportunities for growth and economic options that might otherwise be beyond their reach.

You can help through purchasing handmade baskets, colorful with traditional patterns that reflect the strong bonds between east African women and the regions they call home.  Ugandan Merchandise, parent company to Harkiss Designs, will see that 100 percent of your basket purchase proceeds directly benefits the women artisans who create these fabulously-wrought, expertly-crafted items.

Start basket shopping today!

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