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Growing skills for success: PWRDF supports agriculture education in Uganda

A woman participating in the project’s tree planting program holds two tree saplings

February 14, 2024

By Jacqueline Tucci

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In Uganda, youth from rural, agricultural communities are being left behind as the education system continues to move away from promoting skills in agribusiness in favour of industry and service sector job preparation, even though agriculture makes up over a quarter of the country’s economy. This push has led to a mass exodus of young people from such communities, as they move to more urban centers in search of lucrative jobs in these alternative sectors. At the same time, in 2021, the Uganda Demographic Household survey indicated that less than half of the working age population was employed during the previous calendar year, while secondary school enrollment rates also dropped from 30% in 2016 to 25% in 2017. In 2021, the Ugandan government introduced a new secondary school curriculum which seeks to promote practical and innovative student instruction. Entrepreneurial agriculture was earmarked as a potential pathway to solve youth unemployment.  

To combat the issues of youth unemployment, dropping secondary school enrollment numbers and malnutrition, PWRDF has renewed its partnership with St. Jude Family Projects in a project to promote agricultural entrepreneurship in the rural communities of Masaka, Rakai, Sembabule and Mpigi in Uganda’s Masaka District. This project – which began in November 2023 and will run until October 2026 – is PWRDF’s third project in partnership with St. Jude. PWRDF is supporting this project with $288,047 over its three-year span.  

This project, called “Agroecology for School Nutrition Enhancement and Entrepreneurship,” takes a two-pronged approach to addressing the targeted issues, including a nutrition component within schools to keep youth fed and well-nourished through the day – a major incentive for young people to attend classes and remain in school and to improve performance. The project also includes building a more culturally relevant school curriculum within rural communities, and offers activities to develop the agro-ecological entrepreneurial skills of young people, so they can remain in their communities while supporting themselves and their families.  

Some of the specific project activities include: 

  • Training workshops within schools on soil, fertility, and water conservation harvesting for teachers and students; 
  • Training for school teachers on comprehensive aspects of agro-ecology; 
  • The planting of demonstration gardens and agro-forestry tree saplings at schools; 
  • Training sessions on specific agro-ecological principles, climate change science, mitigation, and adaptation practices with local examples, and; 
  • Additional training sessions for students in agroforestry principles and practices, nutrition and food preparation.  

Schools will also be supported in the construction of underground tarpaulin walled water harvesting tanks for maintenance of tree nurseries and irrigation of crops, while appropriate seed and planting materials will also be provided to schools for vegetables, fruit, tubers and grains, and will be replenished on a seasonal basis. 

Through addressing the issues of hunger and malnutrition, and the impractical approach to agriculture currently offered in schools in Masaka District, this project will reduce youth unemployment and underemployment by nourishing students, thereby keeping them in school longer, and equipping them with practical skills and education to break the cycle of poverty, improve their livelihoods and allow them to stay in their home communities.  

St. Jude has been supporting poverty eradication efforts of smallholder farmers through the promotion of integrated, organic farming for sustainable livelihoods since 1985. The organization runs a certified training centre and provides comprehensive training on organic farming to youth, men and women and vulnerable families. PWRDF has been partnered with St. Jude since 2018.  

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