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28 February 2020 - News

Save the Children and Vision Group sign new partnership to support literacy and learning

Save the Children's Brechtje van Lith and Vision Group’s Acting Managing Director Gervase Ndyanabo sign the agreement. Photo: New Vision

Save the Children has signed a renewed partnership with multimedia publishing company Vision Group as part of our efforts to improve the quality of learning and promote children's rights in rural areas of Uganda.

The partnership – with funding from Norad – will support the weekly Newspapers in Education (NiE) supplement which aims to provide children with information about their rights and issues that affect them, and share children’s opinions and ideas. The NiE supplement is used in classrooms across the country to stimulate discussion and promote literacy.  

The first issue of the term looks at how we can end corporal punishment in schools – which is illegal in Uganda but still widely practiced. Future issues will look at gender equality, the environment and other pressing challenges facing young people.

The partnership will also supply newspapers – 2,505 copies of the English-language New Vision and 1,300 copies of the Luo-language weekly Rupiny – to 110 disadvantaged schools in Karamoja and Acholi sub-regions.  

Many rural schools do not have libraries or enough reading materials, and literacy levels are far below what they should be. Only 6 percent of children in Uganda can read a paragraph after four years in school, according to World Bank research.  

Despite this, the government’s investment in education is decreasing annually as a proportion of the national budget  

Save the Children’s Country Director Brechtje van Lith, speaking at the signing of the partnership, highlighted some of the challenges.  

“Too many children are not accessing school or are not learning at the speed they should be learning. Teachers are not well trained, classrooms are overcrowded, there is a lack of materials, poor infrastructure... Newspapers in Education can contribute an extra resource to help learners develop themselves and get information.” 

The media also has a crucial role to play in informing children and youth of their rights and the many laws that exist to protect them but are rarely enforced; and in raising the voices of children and ensuring they have a platform to be heard by people with power. Factors like child marriage continue to force children - especially girls - out of school. 

"Many children don't know their rights. If they do know, they don't understand how they can speak out against it or how they can report it. NiE can help us with that. We need to tell children about their rights and inform them of how they can report such incidents," said Van Lith.

NIE is a worldwide movement that promotes the innovative use of newspapers in classroom teaching. Through the partnership in Uganda teachers will also be trained on improving literacy and new instructional materials will be developed.

Vision Group’s Acting Managing Director Gervase Ndyanabo said:

“All of us are responsible for looking after these children. For us we come in our humble way through the Newspapers in Education programme”.

Ben Opolot, the Managing Editor of New Vision newspaper, noted the disparity between resources at better-off schools in Kampala which have their own libraries, and the schools which will benefit from the partnership.

“At Vision we seek to advance society and that can mean a lot of things,” Opolot said. “But one of them is to see how we create opportunities in whatever way for all Ugandans. NIE is one of the good opportunities because it provides reading materials for children.”