How goats are helping to keep girls at school in a Ugandan village
Barriers to education, Child marriage, Girls' education, Right to education
Rather than marry off their daughters for dowries, rural families use the gift of a goat as a self-sustaining way of making money and continuing the girls' education.
How do you persuade families in a remote Ugandan village that their girls should stay in school instead of being married off in return for a dowry of goats?
Simple. You give the girl a goat – on condition she continues her education.
The goat is then bred by the family and the offspring are sold at market. Part of the money is used to pay school fees and so the model is self-sustaining.
“So many families have been responsive because they see the value,” said Moses Ntenga, Director of Joy for Children.
Since 2005, the organisation has been championing the rights of children to life free from exploitation, to get a good education and prosper with good health and nutrition.
Ending child marriage and teenage pregnancy is a priority for Joy for Children. Its innovative Girls Empower Model helps girls with the support of their communities.
The goats project is run in Kabarole district in western Uganda. Joy for Children has given goats to girls at Kibyo SDA and Mahyoro Primary Schools.
“We give the girls in those pilot schools free goats so that they are able to rear them,” said Ntenga. “They give birth and the offspring are sold to generate money to keep the girls in school.
“But also it acts as an incentive. Because the goat is a condition given to a girl and the family to keep the girl in school.
“Later it has multiple benefits. It helps to generate more income at the home but also multiplies the benefit from education.
“Those children have high motivation to be in school. Everyone involved in the project does not want to see the girl drop out of school.”
Naomi Aisha, 12, is one of the girls who has benefited from the programme.
In an interview with Daily Monitor, she said: “I received the goat in 2015. This goat is my security to stay at school.
“I make sure that before I go to school, I first take it to feed it and in the evening I come back rushing to untether it. If my parents ever fail to raise fees, I will sell its produce and remain in school.”
The idea of giving goats to keep girls in school has also been successful in Haiti.
In 2015, the relief and development agency World Concern reported that 70 girls had been given goats and were able to stay in school as a result.
On its fundraising page the charity said: “Many families in rural areas can’t afford to send their children to school because of a lack of money and resources.
“The project empowers young girls to pay for school by providing them with a goat and training to care for their goat. With her goat and newfound knowledge, she can raise her goat and then sell the offspring to pay school fees.”