More than 1,000 orphaned children in primary schools in Rakai and Masaka districts will benefit from a multi-million dollar project that will enable them advance their education.
Since 2003, Prof Fred Ssewamala of Columbia University has been conducting research among orphans in primary schools in Rakai and Masaka districts for which he was awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health – a US government agency - to expand the work under the Bridges to the Future project.
The project has entered into partnerships with dfcu, Centenary bank and Kakuuto Small Business Savings and Credit Cooperative Society where the orphans will open savings accounts. The beneficiaries are required to start with an initial deposit of Shs 25,000-50,000 which will be topped up every month. The children are not allowed to make any withdrawals until after they have completed primary seven.
“Bridges to the Future is the culmination of our work in this region for the past nine years,” Ssewamala said.
“Our previous studies, SEED, Suubi-Uganda, and Suubi-Maka, showed successful results among the then primary school orphans. The lessons they learnt and the money they and their care-giving families saved throughout the studies, have enabled many of the orphans to advance their education and even go to university, when they otherwise may have dropped out of primary school at an early age, exposing many of them to high-risk activities.”
Currently, the project operates in 48 primary schools under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme. The project will be jointly managed by Masaka Catholic diocese and Reach the Youth - Uganda which will also distribute new textbooks in addition to providing mentorship services by recent graduates.