At least 50% of the children enrolled in schools in Karamoja sub–region have dropped out before the end of the first academic term. A survey carried out by New Vision indicated a sharp fall in the retention of pupils in the region. Head–teachers in the region attributed the increased dropout to the parents who have left their responsibility to schools. “Our parents do not bother about the presence of their children in school” a teacher from Kaabong District observed.
The rate of school dropout in Karamoja region has reached alarming proportions. Despite the fact that government is promoting education through various programs many children are increasingly dropping out of school. A teacher from Kaabong District noted that most school dropouts he interacts with claim gold mining is a lucrative business, making it hard to convince them to continue with education. The dropout rates are also attributed to the drought affecting Karamoja. During such hard times, children stay at home to look after animals and search for water.
Atasoma Kapilan Bar Women’s group (a group nurtured by UWONET) in Kaabong District, organized a mass sensitization campaign code named “Back to School” to encourage children in the district to go back to school. “We need a generation that looks at things differently and we will only get that if they go to school” the group Chairperson noted. The group members organized community sensitization meetings across the district at Parish level to educate parents and children on the importance of education to the development of the region.
Atasoma Kapilan Bar Women’s group further targeted girls who had dropped out of school due to a number of different reasons. For example, in 2011 Lotyang Veronica dropped out of school while she attended senior three. Veronica got pregnant and was forced out of school. During the Back to School Campaign Veronica was selected to benefit from support towards her education. The women’s group will make a contribution of scholastic material every term to Veronica. Early this year 2013 Veronica returned to school and is progressing well.
Local Actions for Quality Service Delivery
For positive social change to happen, communities need to get involved in service delivery and exercise their role. Community monitors, civil society organizations and local groups have campaigned against the poor service delivery in their own communities.
The documented local actions have taken different forms. Some have happened in small, everyday actions and others in creative ways using large–scale or far reaching avenues like the media. Rooted within the community, the community members create a push from the inside—their actions being the most powerful in improving service delivery in their localities.
Empowering the local communities has revealed the power of demand–side approaches in enhancing governance through the concepts of citizens’ voice, accountability, and responsiveness. It has provided lessons on the establishment of social accountability mechanisms, thereby empowering the local communities, who represent a majority of society.
Far from being passive observers of development and governance discourse, an increasingly vigilant civil society is critiquing, monitoring, and contesting the role of the state and its institutions in shaping and controlling the forms of governance. Working against heavy odds, many civil society groups have demonstrated the power of ordinary people in bringing about changes in service delivery.