Underfunding Hindering Basic Education Program in Karamoja

1011 Views Moroto, Uganda

In short
ABEK program was integrated in the daily routines of the Karimojong children who were allowed to learn within their home settings under tree shades or simple mud and wattle huts put up by communities.

Alternative Basic Education for Karamoja, ABEK performance is dwindling due to financial constraints.

In 1998, Save the Children, Uganda, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Sports and Karamoja district local governments, using locally available indigenous knowledge, developed a curriculum to come up with ABEK. 

ABEK program was integrated in the daily routines of the Karimojong children who were allowed to learn within their home settings under tree shades or simple mud and wattle huts put up by communities.


The program sought to understand local challenges, attitudes and more importantly the historic biases associated with "the pen" and education in general.

It was designed with two primary objectives; to change the Karimojong attitude to education in general and towards education of the girl child in particular, by providing relevant curriculum and teaching for the Karimojong child and; to encourage and create a path to formal school.

ABEK learners would later enroll for formal education and this gradually boosted school enrollment in Karamoja. ABEK teachers were also absorbed by government and put in payroll. 

However, the program is slowly fading away. ABEK learning centres in Moroto have kept reducing from 71 to 10.

According Paul Oputa, the District Education Officer Moroto, ABEK centres have no instructional materials and this has forced learners away. He notes that the program is grappling with financial challenges as the funding has been reduced.


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Oputa observed that ABEK situation is worrying as some of the teachers have given up. He explained that much as ABEK teachers continue to draw salaries from government, the program implementation is diminishing.


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Simon Nangiro, the chairperson of Karamoja Miners Association wants government to put more emphasis on ABEK other than Early Childhood Development, ECD programs. In ABEK, children would learn three times a day, depending on the herding hours.



But ECD program is also struggling to operate especially in rural settings in Karamoja. Key among the challenges is lack of shelter and sanitary facilities for learners. In Moroto, only 25 centres operate out of 71 set up.
 
Sr. Agnes Lomongin, the former Principal of Moroto Core Primary Teachers College says that there is need to continue with ABEK in Karamoja. She explains that ABEK provided a conducive environment to young herders, something that helped in changing attitude towards education.


Although the situation towards education is changing, there are still more children at home.


A number of children are engaged in mining activities, herding cattle and other businesses in town, while the girls are mostly occupied with domestic chores including fending for the families due to hunger.