Rural Ugandan Schools Are Finally Getting The Help They Deserve
As people from all over the world prepare to celebrate World Children’s Day on November 20, a newly planned school in rural Uganda is facing hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but officials are steadfast in their determination to see it come to fruition.
The Tat Sat Community Academy will be made up of a school, cultural institution, and savings cooperative when it is completed, which is scheduled for 2022. The InteRoots Initiative, a nonprofit organization based in Denver, has partnered with the community of Kasasa on the project.
"Every community, no matter where it may be on this planet we share, is rooted in the simple belief that the future is important,” Scott Frank, co-founder and executive director of InteRoots, tells CircleAround. “What we do now matters because it impacts the future.”
“Children are important, because children are the future,” he says. “But the deeper truth is that we are all children. We all carry knowledge that has been gifted to us by those who were children before us. More importantly, we all understand that as children of the world, we have the ability to create new ideas and approaches as only a child can. On World Children's Day, we honor this potential in ourselves and in our children. We affirm that every individual has potential to strengthen the community, and every community has the potential to nurture the child within us."
Now more than ever, access to quality education is paramount. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, school closures globally saw 1.54 billion children staying home, including 743 million girls.
Uganda’s schools have seen the longest closures globally, according to the United Nations Cultural Agency, leaving children vulnerable.
"More importantly, we all understand that as children of the world, we have the ability to create new ideas and approaches as only a child can."
InteRoots hopes the Tat Sat Community Academy, also known as TaSCA, can be a remedy to that. But it faces its own challenges as well. Despite rising construction costs and supply-chain disruptions, InteRoots and the Kasasa community have continued to work on the project, which provides much needed income to local residents.
Once completed, TaSCA will include the Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO). The community members hope to invest in a mill, which will be used by the farmers in the community to produce locally, instead of outsourcing at a high cost. The locally sourced food will also be available to the school’s students, the community at large, and staff members.
Another program is the Graduate Enterprise Fund (GEF), which will allow students, upon graduation, to submit a plan for funds set aside for purposes that will further their goals. This may include continuing their education or starting a business.
The community board must approve the plan, and qualified graduates will receive financial support for around one to two years, providing economic stability beyond graduation.
“This nimble, community-led structure has allowed for flexibility in a time of crisis so that the project has persisted despite challenges,” Frank says of TaSCA. “The community has embraced the project, and the structures created have also made forums for the community to discuss ways to provide support to each other during the crisis.”
Namayega Agnes, a TaSCA community board member, said women and children have not been given an equal chance for financial progress and development.
“Given the fact that the community is paternalistic, the GEF and SACCO for students [means] a shift in the current perceptions about the women in our community to being equally productive members, and providing for an increased and balanced community,” she says. “Since the beginning of TaSCA, I have focused on this opportunity for women and children in the three pillars of our project: women, women, women!"
For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit InteRoots.org.