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Full Organisation Profile

Full Profile of CEP Uganda

CEP – Uganda is a rural based child and women’s rights community-based Organization that recognizes the role of a woman in socio economic development and ensuring the safety of the next generation and therefore seeks to empower children especially the girl child and women to reach their full potential to live happily, respectably and productively. CEP-Uganda leverages on the increase of access to quality education and vocational skills development, and entrepreneurship and financial literacy for women in the underserved rural communities of Kamuli District.

Witnessing the way in which the HIV/AIDS pandemic was wreaking havoc on the community, Robert Kalulu and colleagues founded a community based organization called The AIDS Generation (TAGEN) Uganda in March 2005 to address the needs of the many AIDS orphans at the time. 

TAGEN initially worked in communities of three counties (Bugulumbya, Mbulamuti and Wankole) in Kamuli District addressing livelihood needs for the elderly, providing scholarships for secondary education students, and deploying a low-cost vocational training program for girls who had dropped out of school. In 2015, TAGEN changed its name to Child Empowerment Programme (CEP)-Uganda to more accurately reflect our program focus. CEP-Uganda (or CEP) is a registered Community-Based Organization in Uganda

During the 1990s a large proportion of the people who died from the AIDS pandemic were from rural areas and thus left many orphaned children. The lasting impacts of socioeconomic marginalization are felt deeply within rural communities in eastern Uganda who comprise 26% of the population, yet this population accounts for less than 14% of the country’s income and consumption (UBOS, 2016).

At the international level, Uganda is considered one of the countries that has reduced their poverty levels over the past decade. The countries’ absolute poverty level reduced from 31% in 2005 to 19.7% in 2013 (World Bank report, 2016). However, poverty reduction is not uniformly felt across the country: the rural areas with about 77% of the population constitute 89% of national poverty, while the urban areas with 23% of the population constitute 11% of national poverty (UBOS, 2016).  Incidences of poverty across the country are 5% for central Uganda, 9% western Uganda, while east (where CEP Uganda operates) and northern Uganda have 25% and 44% poverty levels respectively.  Historically rural areas of eastern Uganda have experienced disproportionate adversity.

In addition to the high level of poverty, eastern Uganda is among the regions with the lowest level of education in Uganda and East Africa (Uwezo, 2013). Inaccessibility of education is one of the major factors behind the income inequality experienced in Uganda’s rural areas. Youth in Uganda’s rural areas have very limited access to education beyond primary school (7th Grade). The government of Uganda has emphasized the importance of education and the country achieved universal primary education. At the national level, however, retention rates drop dramatically after primary school; less than 50% of youth continue to secondary school compared to 72% in Kenya and 83% in Tanzania (Huylebroeck and Titeca, 2014). The overall performance of Uganda’s students is lower than Kenya and Tanzania especially for rural students (Uwezo, 2013) and Uganda’s children school drop-out rate has been documented to be as high as 71% in some regions. In the country’s rural areas, the rate of educational attainment is even lower. In urban areas, children are twice as likely to attend and complete secondary school and more than 59% of girls in rural areas drop out of school for various reasons including teenage pregnancy (MoES, 2012). In addition, rural communities in Uganda are mostly subsistence farmers and on average, earn a fraction of what employed urban residents make in a year. To put this in context, rural employees earn only 35% of what urban employees earn and women earn 50% of what men earn (UBOS, 2016); many rural residents are women who are not engaged in paid employment and so from their subsistence earnings, their monthly income is a fraction of the national median of 110,000 Ug. Shs. (~$31). Therefore subsistence farming, as done by the rural communities, without government support is not a sufficient source of income to support rural families.

In 2012, CEP Uganda opened an experimental private primary school in Nawanende called Orion Junior School to provide affordable good quality primary education to the community who otherwise only relied on public Universal Primary Education (UPE) program [challenges of UPE can be read about in UNICEF report, 2014].  Towards the end of 2016 CEP commissioned a Community Needs Assessment (CNA), our first direct empirical study of the socioeconomic situation of this community to identify the progress made by the community since 2005 and to identify the main needs of the community. Over 300 households in Kamuli District were surveyed to measure socioeconomic development indicators and identified a gap in educational opportunities for secondary students, particularly something oriented towards girls. The CNA also found that there was a greater need for secondary and vocational training for village youth than was being provided through a limited number of scholarships from CEP.

To better address this need, CEP proposed transitioning the scholarship from a “student-based” approach (scholarships) to a “school-based” approach (community high school. By starting a school, more youth could be supported through a school education for a lower individual cost than with scholarships. In other words, starting a school would enable a greater impact on the community than would individual scholarships. In February 2017, CEP started YANA Community High School, a registered secondary school which provides high-quality, subsidized secondary education for orphans and vulnerable youth, particularly girls. YANA opened with the aim of reaching children who had been slipping through the cracks from under-education to poverty by addressing constraints such as high school fees, absenteeism, and low motivation / poor performance. This is done by providing a higher number of scholarships on a sliding scale to vulnerable children who cannot afford local private schools, are located too far from the only public secondary school, or are not fortunate enough to earn limited scholarships to schools elsewhere in the region.    

In Uganda 59% of school dropouts are due to pregnancy, while over 50% of students do not attend school due to poverty. These statistics demonstrate the compounding factors which face rural youth. Furthermore, the lack of affordable and accessible education and vocational training is a major factor that perpetuates the cycle of poverty in our community.

CEP Uganda presently run the Orion Junior School, YANA Community High School, a model hybrid secondary school to provide affordable formal secondary and vocational training to rural youth, who want an education, but are unable to attend regular private primary, secondary school and have no access to vocational training and the Home Grown Enterprises (HGEs) project which offers entrepreneurship and financial literacy training to the women for self reliance.