Accelerated Learning Programme restores hope for children who dropped out of school

Monday 26 March 2018

Zuleika Zubeda,* a 17-year-old girl from Kochi sub-county, Yumbe District, loves school and dreams of becoming an accountant in future. Her favourite subjects are English, Mathematics and Science.

Zubeda’s journey through school has however not been an easy one. Like many refugee and Ugandan children living around Bidibidi refugee settlement (host community), Zubeda has experienced firsthand the pain associated with losing both parents.

Her father, a prominent businessman dealing in produce between Yumbe and Juba in South Sudan, was killed in an ambush in 2011 while her mother had died earlier on in 2005.

“I first dropped out of school in 2005 when my mother died. In 2008 I was taken back to school but the administration asked me to start from primary one instead of primary three because I had stayed home for three years. I started all over again. When my father died in 2011, I dropped out of school again. Later in 2012, my grandmother transferred me to another school,” she narrates. “Grandmother struggled to provide me with scholastic materials and I resorted to doing casual work like laundry and support grandmother’s efforts.”

This did not bring in enough money so Zubeda eventually dropped out of school for the third time.

Though she misses her parents’ love, Zubeda has firmly pushed onward to fulfill her dreams. After completing primary education, Zubeda hopes to join Yumbe Secondary School, one of the best in the district.  She, however worries whether she will be able to meet her school fees given her modest income and a host of other requirements. 

Zubeda is able to think of primary education because of Save the Children’s ‘go back to school’ campaign which was launched in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement.

Save the Children is implementing the Accelerated Learning Programme in six schools in Bidibidi Refugee settlement under the Support Programme to Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU), funded through the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF).

According to Mr. Yasin Draliga, Programe Officer in charge of Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) at Save the Children – Yumbe, the project enables out-of-school children from both refugee and host communities to get a foothold back onto the education ladder through an ‘accelerated’ learning environment that allows children to catch up and complete primary education.

“This project targets both refugees and members of the host community (Ugandans) in Bidibidi. Through sensitisation, parents and caretakers learned more about the benefits of education and were encouraged to enroll children who had dropped out of school,” Draliga explained.

So far 378 learners have enrolled under this program in the primary school that Zubeda attends.

A cross-section of children learning

“I was overjoyed when my uncle told me that I was resuming school,” says a beaming Zubeda.

The Accelerated Learning Programme has three levels that take three years to complete using a compressed curriculum.

“Children like Zubeda can transit at any level to the formal primary school. Level 3 has two alternatives – one can either do the Primary Leaving Examinations within the formal education system and join the Universal Secondary Education or be linked to vocational education training (VET), focusing more on skills development through the livelihoods component,” Draliga explained.

Today, Zubeda remains on the path to her dreams despite being a child mother. When she’s not busy with school homework or domestic cores, Zubeda who is a head girl under ALP project enjoys reading and usually requests her uncle to bring her old newspapers from the town to improve her reading skills.

The deputy head teacher of Zubeda’s school praises the project for giving hope to children who had given up on resuming education.

*not real name

By James Odong 

Communications Officer, Save the Children