Education not just books; students learn practical survival skills
Both the girl and boy scout groups from Kyangwali refugee settlement took out top honours in this year’s Hoima District competition winning the right to represent the district at the 2014 Ugandan national scouting jamboree in Kampala.
The annual competition pits teams of young people against each other to find who can best demonstrate the survival skills taught at school throughout the year.
Scouting takes place twice a week in schools run by AAH Uganda. Here students learn essential practical skills including how to design and construct a model homestead. They also gain valuable life skills like planning, budgeting and time management.
Each year the best 10 boys and 10 girls, aged 9-15 years, are selected from the schools within Kyangwali to represent the settlement at the district camp. The two teams are each accompanied by a teacher to supervise and guide them over the four days.
Abert Atwine, an AAH Uganda education officer, said the annual camp offers students an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice.
“At the campsite the students build and arrange their homestead making sure that it meets sanitation and hygiene standards. For example, the kitchen is set on higher ground from the sleeping shelter to avoid any contamination while the latrine is dug on lower ground. They also build drying racks for clothes, plates and cups to make sure they stay clean,” said Abert.
During the camp the scouts collect firewood, cook and clean for themselves. Each day the camp sites are inspected and groups are awarded points for the quality of the structures they have built and how clean and tidy their compound is as well as other skills like knot tying and literacy.
In addition to these practical skills, living together in a group gives the children valuable social skills like leadership, team work and perseverance. They also get an opportunity to meet children representing other cultures and to learn from each other as they take part in group activities like singing and story-telling by the nightly campfire.
Scouting in Uganda aims to educate young people to play a constructive role in society but is also a way to deliver important messages about children’s rights and responsibilities, HIV/AIDS, environmental management, good sanitation and hygiene that will help the children and their families stay healthy.
AAH Uganda integrates these activities into the school curriculum to help develop students as responsible citizens and prepare them for life after school. After completing their training students are not only better equipped for life but they are also more confident in their own abilities.