Movement to and from school is a challenge for many students in refugee settlements in Uganda. Many students walk distances of up to 10km to get to school on a daily basis causing them to be late and tired. Some begin walking to school as early at 5am in the morning, leading to poor performance, absenteeism and high dropout rates.
To improve access to school, Windle International Uganda (WIU) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) distributed 102 bicycles to support secondary school students at Kiryandongo High School and Panyadoli Self Help Secondary School) who walk long distance daily to school and back home. The receipt of the bicycles included; 41 refugees (12M, 29 F) and 61 nationals (27M, 34F).
This is aimed at reducing protection risks faced by mainly female learners caused by long distance to and from school. The distribution of bicycles is also aimed at enabling learners reach school on time, improve school attendance and performance, while reducing dropouts due to early pregnancies.
While handing over the bicycles, the UNHCR Representative, Kiryandongo Field Office, Sarah Mirondo noted that in one of the assessments carried out, distance to school was highlighted as a huge challenge especially for the girl child. “The bicycles will help increase access to secondary education and reduce distance learners have to travel to school. This will reduce protection risks especially for the girl child,” she said.
What receiving bicycles means to students?
Atim Marion Faith, a senior four student of Panyadoli Self Help Secondary School is among the beneficiaries. She says, “Since schools reopened, I have been facing a challenge of coming late to school and going back home late. But now that I have received the bicycle, I know things are going to change.”
“It has made our lives simpler. We shall make sure we report to school early and concentrate in our lessons in order to get better results and be responsible citizens.”
Ihata Magdalena, another beneficiary, said “I am so thankful to UNHCR and WIU for the support they have given us in form of bicycles. This will help solve the long distance to school and will especially motivate us the girls to come to school early.”
Alaro Naume said, “I can not express the joy I have because of the bicycle I received. It has eased my coming to school because I faced difficulties when going home at 6pm. I could reach at 7pm or 8pm. It has eased my life that I at least get some time to do my work when I get home.”
Of those who received bicycles, 62% were girls who are often exposed to violations when they have to walk long distances to school.