Jan 03, 2011

Batwa: Uganda Witnessing Growing School Enrolment

Education is opening to Batwa communities in Uganda but while numbers remain low and financing difficult, such progress could create new opportunities and overcome long-held prejudices

Below is an article published by New Vision:

Against overwhelming odds, Alice Nyamihanda graduated with a diploma in Development Studies, the first in her community, from Bugema University.

She is part of the Batwa community, who were forest dwellers, until the early 90s, when the forest, Bwindi, was gazetted as a national park.

They were left landless because the forest was their home and only source of livelihood. Without education, land and social skills, they were left impoverished. Due to lack of income, they could not afford basic requirements like school fees and scholastic materials.

Nyamihanda, however, managed to beat these odds and attained a diploma, thanks to the Danish Children Fund with ADRA Uganda, which initiated a sponsorship programme for the Batwa children in Mabuyemeru Primary School.

Nyamihanda attended Mabuyemeru Primary School and passed in third division. She then joined Sseseme Girls’ School for secondary school education, which she completed with two principle passes. Although the result could not grant her government sponsorship, the ADRA project assisted her enroll at Bugema University for a diploma in Development Studies in 2008. She obtained the diploma in October 2010.

Nonetheless, Nyamihanda is not the only Mutwa seeking a decent education. Rose Nsubuga, a programme officer at ADRA Uganda says nine Batwa graduated with certificates from Kisoro Vocation School in November.

Currently, Nyamihanda is working with the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda, an organisation found in Kisoro town. Nyamihanda is not sure of her age because at the time of her birth, her community did not consider taking note of birthdays as important. However, according to a newsletter from ADRA Uganda, she is about 26 years.