By Kampala Post Reporter
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni has launched a model for empowering families and communities to care for the children and called upon all leaders across Uganda to robustly and strategically invest in the children of the country by supporting the proposed Child Support Grant.
The First Lady launched the model at a high-level meeting on children that she convened on the sidelines of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ meeting at Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo on Tuesday, 1st August 2017.
The meeting held under the theme “Establishing Sustained Investments in Uganda’s Children. An innovative Financing Mechanism to Accelerate Vision 20140” was graced by the Rt. Hon. Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland. It was also attended by the State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, Youth Ministers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, Ambassadors and Development Partners, the Business Community, Civil Society and Religious Leaders among others.
The Child Support Grant is an innovative financing mechanism that requires about US $ 4 billion to ensure that no child is left behind. Under this model it is proposed that families in Uganda living in poverty and have children under the age of 2 will be receiving a Child Support Grant of 23,000 Uganda Shillings per month and also adolescent girls who are vulnerable to dropping out of school will receive a Stay-In-School grant.
In her address the First Lady said that to get the child-focused innovative financing initiative off the ground will require everybody’s support right from the highest levels of Government, to captains of industry across the Private Sector, Religious and Cultural Leaders, Development Partners, International Financial Institutions, Foundations, Social Impact Investors and the Civil Society.
The Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland emphasized the need for male engagement in their children’s lives saying it is important to have men and women participating together, planning and plotting on how to better change the life cycles of many of the children who are poor, disadvantaged and neglected.
She said the issue of establishing sustained investments in children is very important considering the life chances for more than the 8 million children in the world who are currently under institutional care.
She said that all data tells that there is a direct correlation between what a child achieves at 22 months and what the same child will achieve at the age of 22 years. “Our true wealth will be in our children and therefore if we choose not to invest in our children and not to invest in our collective future, then we are wasting a resource that will not come again”, she said.
Baroness Patricia Scotland said the Commonwealth States are lucky because together they account for 2.4 billion people which is one third of the world’s population and they can use these numbers make a difference.
State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi explained that 80% of the brain weight of a child is acquired below the age of 3 years and the early experience affects the architecture of the brain and therefore that is why the children under 3 years are being prioritized. She said that the program is intended to ensure that the communities and families are vigilant in taking care of their children. She thanked Mrs. Janet Museveni for dedicating her life to the children’s cause and President Museveni for ensuring an enabling environment in the country.
The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development together with UNICEF, Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), Child I Foundation, Uganda North American Youth Development Association and the Private Sector of Uganda are working closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat to ensure the sustained investment in Uganda’s children
UNICEF’s Chief of Communications Jaya Murthy said that the Child Support and Stay-in School Grants will help break inter-generational poverty. He pointed out the need for a sustainable financing model and proposed potential financing streams that could be explored. These include the National Budget, pooled resources from Uganda’s private sector, levying a percentage of mobile money transactions, remittances from Ugandans in the diaspora, Development Partners and International Financing Institutions, Foundations and International Social Impact Investors.
The Country Director Child’s i Foundation Christopher Muwanguzi, UWESO’s Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Aguti, Uganda North American Youth Development Association’s Executive Director Muyimba Charles and the Executive Director Private Sector Foundation Gideon Badagawa presented highlights of how their organizations will contribute towards sustainable investment in Uganda’s children.