Eight Canadian co-operators are visiting Uganda to learn about CCA’s Integrated Finance and Agricultural Production Initiative (IFAPI) model. CCA and the Uganda Co-operative Alliance have developed an innovative approach to rural development by linking agricultural co-operatives, marketing co-ops and savings and credit co-operatives.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The value of education...

Over the course of the past four days, our team of Canadian CCA volunteers has met with a wide variety of Uganda co-op members, including members of savings and co-operative credit organizations (SACCOs), rural producer organizations (RPOs) and area co-operative enterprises (ACEs). 

The recurring theme that has emerged from those discussions is the value of education. Almost to an individual, members have told us that the education of their children is the top priority in their lives. Many have told us that the primary reason they joined their SACCO was to take out a loan to pay the school fees for their children. 

People like Boniface Ayo, one of the founding members of Ikwera SACCO in Aduku, a town in the Central Ugandan district of Apac. Ayo, a farmer with five children ages two to 18, said that like many members of the SACCO, he joined to get access to money to pay school fees.

"Money is the source of everything. With it, you can send your children to school," Ayo said. "If there is poverty, if there is nothing in your pocket, then there is nothing."

The Ugandan school system consists of both government-run schools and private schools. The government-run schools are more affordable, but class sizes can be as large as 500 students for one teacher. Private schools offer more reasonable class sizes and higher quality education, but they're also costlier, putting them out of the reach of many rural Ugandans.

Through school-fee loans from SACCOs however, many Ugandans are beginning to be able to send their children to private school.

For parents like Ayo, that means the opportunity to see his children reach their full potential.

"I would like to struggle very hard so they each can go to school and reach the level they can reach," he said.

Jim Harris

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