In July, the None in Three team in Uganda delivered a two-day training session for social work volunteers. The aim of this training session was to prepare the volunteers to go into schools to provide support to students who are experiencing a range of problems, including experiencing gender-based violence.
The team trained a total of seventeen volunteers who will be working within four schools in Uganda. Each school will have a set day of the week when the social workers are available. They will provide support to students whose needs have been identified by teachers, by peers or by the students themselves.
The support offered includes counselling and guidance services for students. The social workers are also trained to educate students about a range of issues, such as children’s rights, reproductive health and proper sanitation. Where necessary, the volunteers are able to put students in contact with external agencies for further support.
The need for an intervention of this sort was clearly identified by our research.
Between September and December 2018 we conducted a survey with school students in Uganda. The findings of this survey showed a high prevalence of childhood neglect, abuse and maltreatment. There was a lack of awareness on issues surrounding child marriage and on the associated mental health consequences.
We also found that, in many schools, the focus of teachers was on grades and academic performance. This meant that many child protection issues were either not recognised or not adequately addressed.
We felt that a schools based social work presence was the most effective way to address the issues identified by our survey. The aim of None in Three is not only to conduct research which measures the effects of gender-based violence, but also to use our research to develop meaningful interventions aimed at making a real difference to the attitudes, and the lives, of young people affected by these issues.
The early feedback on this project from parents, teachers and from the students themselves has been positive, and we hope that this pilot will show a need for this kind of intervention to be made more widely available in Uganda.
The work was overseen by School Based Social Work Project Coordinator James Thomas Ssenfuuma, under the leadership of Ni3 Uganda Country Director Dr Eric Ochen.
14th August 2019