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Right To Play in Uganda

Right To Play has worked in Uganda since 2001 to improve learning outcomes and help children develop critical life skills. We have significant experience working in both development and humanitarian settings in refugee-hosting districts and other vulnerable communities across the country supporting in and out of school children and youth. Under the framework of the National Integrated Early Childhood Development program supported by UNICEF, we have recently expanded our work to include integration of play-based approaches into early childhood development settings.

Right To Play has a strong local relationships with the Government of Uganda at national and local levels, particularly with the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Education and Sport; the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development; local district governments, and the Kampala Capital City Authority. Since 2018, Right To Play has been working together with the Uganda Olympic Committee as a member of the Athletics for Development network under the sponsorship of the Minister of Education and Sport to use athletics in promoting social cohesion and inclusion.

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Over the next five years, our work in Uganda will focus on the areas of Quality Education, Health and Wellbeing, Child Protection, Girls' Empowerment and Peaceful Co-existence. We hope to reach 166, 246 youth, 1,750 teachers, and 1,185 early childhood development caregivers by 2025.

We will work to:

  • Ensure more children can access inclusive and quality education, and more girls are empowered
  • Strategically position Right To Play as the leading education organization leveraging our play-based learning approaches
  • Promote peaceful coexistence among refugees and host communities through the power of play and sport.
  • Strengthen partnerships with government, schools, communities, the private sector, civil society organizations and international NGOs for lasting social impact
The challenges faced by children in Uganda

Uganda has one of the youngest populations in Sub-Saharan Africa: 56% of the country's population under age 18. It also has one of the highest birth rates in the region at 3.5%. The country has made great strides in expanding access to basic education and health services for children and youth, but the quality of services remains low. While the Government of Uganda is committed to providing equitable access to quality and affordable education for all Ugandans, the education sector is constrained by a high level of teacher and student absenteeism, weak school-level management structures, inadequate availability of learning materials, and large class sizes.

There also dropouts that are attributed to economic challenges, child marriages, teenage pregnancies, among others. Research has demonstrated that a number of girls drop out of schools due to challenges in menstrual hygiene management. They miss school due to limited access to pads. 59% of girls and 68% of boys experience physical violence in childhood, 1 in 4 girls aged 15 to 19 have begun child-bearing and 53% of primary school–aged refugee children are out of school.

With ongoing civil wars and unrest in neighbouring countries and the Uganda Open door Refugee policy that is generous and progressive, Uganda now hosts over. 1.5 million refugees, the largest number of refugees in any African country. The influx of refugees has placed additional strain on livelihoods and social services in already vulnerable refugee-hosting districts.

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Improving educational opportunities for vulnerable girls and boys

Right To Play supports the provision of quality ECD and primary education for children in Kampala, Kamwenge, Kyegegwa, Isingiro and Adjumani districts. In alignment with the national curriculum, we train teachers and education officials to use play-based approaches for child-centered, participatory learning. The training covers a wide range of topics such as child development, modifying games to achieve curriculum outcomes, positive discipline techniques, and inclusive participation techniques that, promote the participation of girls and children with disabilities.

We establish communities of practice, providing teachers with the opportunity to share their experiences, successes, and challenges with peers. We also support teachers through joint supervision visits with district education and other ministry officials who have been trained on coaching and mentoring.

“Through play, children take on challenges, they learn faster, and they become creative and innovative. which is a prerequisite for survival in the 21st century. Play-based learning is creating our critical thinkers for the future.” — Senior official, Ministry of Education and Sport

Promoting safe, supportive, and inclusive schools and communities

Right To Play works to address the violence in schools, homes, and communities that forms a barrier to school attendance. We have done much of this work in northern Uganda, where the legacy of violent ethnic conflict experienced by south Sudanese refugee children is sometimes unintentionally felt in new schools and communities.

We strengthen school-based child protection systems in several ways: by reinforcing referral pathways for children experiencing violence, by training school governance bodies on child protection and safeguarding, and by supporting children, teachers and parents/care givers to report child protection concerns. We train teachers to use positive discipline, create inclusive classrooms, and teach conflict-resolution and peace-building skills using an adapted sport and peace education curriculum that we piloted by in Burundi.

We also work to enhance school safety through infrastructure improvements. We provide private, safe, and appropriate sanitation facilities in primary schools and early-childhood development centres, paying particular attention to the needs of girls by teaching girls and boys the importance of menstrual hygiene management, and how to make and use reusable pads, constructing washrooms and changing rooms with incinerators for girls. We are increasingly working to support communities and schools in Kampala to mobilize around improving their environments.

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Supporting the holistic development of very young children

Right To Play supports district governments and refugee settlements in refugee-hosting areas of the country to coordinate, manage, and scale up quality integrated early childhood development (ECD) services for refugee and host community children. ECD centres receive infrastructure improvements and support to connect to child protection, health, and other services. We train ECD teachers on play-based learning and positive learning environments, early literacy and numeracy for young children, and how to make play materials and books from locally available material.

We also orient parents on positive parenting using the Key Family Care Practices (KFCPs) of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF and engage them to strengthen the capacity of ECD centre management

Stay connected with youth in Uganda and around the world

Right To Play gratefully acknowledges the support of all of its financial and technical partners. Support for our programs in Uganda comes from the Government of Canada, the LEGO Foundation, UNICEF, the Millenium Foundation, Dutch MFA, 60 Million Girls Foundation, Olympic Refuge Foundation, W-Initiative Foundation, George Washington University, and supporters like you.

Contact our Uganda office
Plot 78 Old Kira Road, Bukoto
P.O.Box 24947 Kampala
Phone:​ + 256 200 900 997

More info on our work in Uganda