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Finishing School: Supporting students to stay in school for longer

Munyes Michael

Munyes Michael is an exception. Aged 24, Munyes holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Studies with Education and is currently working as a Community Facilitator with a local land rights organisation.

Munyes comes from Karamoja in Uganda, where more than four-fifths of adults are illiterate. Almost half of the school-going population aged 6 to 24 have never attended school. A high number of children drop before they complete primary or secondary education.  Karamoja is the poorest and most marginalised area of the country, and is emerging from years of conflict.

Munyes is a former recipient of the Irish Aid Bursary Programme. Over the past ten years, the Irish Aid Bursary programme has supported over 2,000 bright but disadvantaged students to attend post primary education by providing schools fees, school books and materials, mentoring and career guidance. For Munyes, this Irish Aid programme has changed his life.

Life was really challenging before joining High school. I repeated Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) for three consecutive years; 2004, 2005 and 2006. Although, I obtained good grades, the family was unable send me to secondary school. In the course of my primary education, my old mother used to burn charcoal to provide scholastic materials. I also worked for people by fetching water, collecting firewood in return for some small payment. My life has changed from the time I secured the Irish Aid scholarship. I lacked nothing as my school fees were paid. I used to receive all scholastic materials. At the university, we were given pocket money, transport to and from home, accommodation paid for… without the bursary programme, I would not be what I am today.”

In a region where fewer than one in ten children attend second-level education, Irish Aid is supporting children to transition from primary to secondary level education, and to complete their schooling. This equips young people to make progress in their lives, with improved choices and opportunities to access the job market.

Ireland’s development programme in Uganda has a strong focus on improving education access and quality. In 2018, close to €4.5 million will be spent on education. As well as providing bursaries, Irish Aid work with UNICEF and other partners to support improvements in school management, teacher capacity, and reducing violence against children in schools.