Never too late to LEARN – improving access to education in Uganda

A girl in a wheelchair is sitting next to a classmate at a desk. They are looking at a textbook together
Monica a student from Rwamwanja Secondary School finds it easier to participate in class with her wheelchair and kneepads.

IN UGANDA, FCA supports children and adolescents access education in Uganda’s refugee settlements through the Lasting Education Achievements Responding to Needs (LEARN) project funded by the U.S department of State, Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration.

LYDIA BANGA, Rwarinda Racheal, and Komulembe Monica are three inspiring young individuals who, despite setbacks, are forging their education paths.

FCA helped them rejoin mainstream schooling after their education was interrupted. Here are their own stories.

Lydia’s journey to achieving top performance.

Lydia Banga’s journey from a refugee fleeing civil war in Congo to becoming one of the best-performing students at in Rwamwanja refugee settlement is a testament to her determination.

A girl in a green polo shirt sits at a desk and works on some schoolwork
Lydia Banga attends Ntenungi Senior Secondary School in Rwamwanja refugee settlement

“When I came to Uganda, I was demoted and placed in primary classes instead of joining secondary school. This was because of the language barrier; I did not know English. I felt demotivated so I contemplated dropping out of school. However, my mother’s convinced me to stay. In school. I worked hard became one of the best performing students during my Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).”

“I was determined to work hard even when my mother fell ill, and I had to be the sole provider of our family. I am the oldest of five siblings, so I took on casual jobs to support us. Through it all, I remained committed to my education,” she adds.

Lydia later joined Ntenungi Secondary School with support of Finn Church Aid (FCA) through the LEARN project, which gave her extra support.

“I am extremely grateful to FCA for giving me a scholarship to study from Ntenungi Secondary School. They also give me scholastic materials, menstrual hygiene kits, and career counselling.” she says. 

Lydia’s dreams of pursuing medicine and specialise in midwifery are fueled by her desire to make a positive impact on her community.

Pregnancy didn’t put an end to her education

Rwarinda Racheal is a survivor, who rejoined school with the support of her parents.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown, I became pregnant because I was taken advantage of by one of our village’s pastors. For my parents and me, it was an extremely difficult time. When we took the issue to the police, it was discovered that he was abusing several girls in the same way. Sadly, he fled the settlement, and we haven’t heard from him since,” Racheal tells us.

A girl in a green polo shirt sits on a chair outside a classroom and looks towards the camera
Racheal goes to Ntenungi Secondary School.

With unwavering support from her parents, friends, and FCA, she returned to school after the lockdown.

“My mother received a visit from the deputy headteacher of Ntenungi Secondary School who informed her I may resume my studies after delivering.  Throughout the pregnancy, she checked in with me every day.”

“A part of my journey has also included FCA support,” she continues. “They drove me to the hospital, and their PSS (Psychosocial Support) & Child Protection officers helped me the entire way. They also give me scholastic materials and menstrual hygiene kits.”

Racheal aspires to become a doctor, to make a difference in people’s lives. “With FCA’s support, I am confident that I will fulfil my dream,” she smiles.

She encourages parents not to feel disappointed about teenagers who get pregnant, emphasising the potential for success with proper support and guidance.

Mobility devices improved Monica’s school experience.

A girl in a wheelchair is sitting outside a classroom. She has kneepads on.
Monica a student from Rwamwanja Secondary School finds it easier to participate in class with her wheelchair and kneepads.

To improve Komulembe Monica’s classroom experience, FCA provided the sixteen-year-old girl with a wheelchair and kneepads.

“The wheelchair and kneepads provided to me by the LEARN project have greatly eased my movement around the school. Now, I can access any part of the school easily. Before I received this support, it was very difficult for me to move and stay in school. It was even worse on rainy days when I would have to crawl in mud and over rocks, which hurt me.”

Monica dreams of becoming a doctor and encourages parents and learners with disabilities to maintain a positive attitude.

“Parents who have children with disabilities should not feel disappointed or ashamed. With proper support, these children can lead successful and meaningful lives,” Monica concludes.

We believe everyone has the right to quality education. Find out more about our LEARN project.