Even if I died today, I would die the happiest person.
-Jovia Tumuheirwe, Caregiver
|Defining Block GrantsBlock Grants are the use of in-kind goods and services as a substitute for cash payments that cover the costs of school fees and requirements of Orphans and Vulnerable children (OVC).
The main goal of block grants is to provide schools with resources needed to sustain increased enrollment of OVC and ensure quality of education while building the capacity of teachers through training in life skills and HIV-AIDS education
The Block grants approach is an innovative approach that emerged in response to the difficulties associated with direct payment of individual secondary school fees. Under this approach, schools are provided with school materials. In exchange, the schools admit a predetermined number of OVC who pay reduced school fees in small installments for a year. The school’s materials provided under the block grants approach include such items as Science laboratory equipment and chemicals, Text books for teachers and students reference, Furniture (Chairs/ Twin desks, beds), Installation of solar energy (electricity) in classes, Computers, Rehabilitation of classrooms, Rain water harvesting plastic tanks, Generators for lighting in the school among others.
Benefits/positive out comes block grants
Tears of joy were seen coming from the eyes of Jovia Tumuheirwe as she told a story about how her dream came true with the support of Africare-Uganda’s COPE project. Jovia, a widow, age 40, is from Kitondo parish, Ihunga Sub County in Ntungamo district, and is one of the caregivers whose son completed senior four at Kagamba secondary school through block grant methodology by Africare.
Jovia says from senior 1 to senior 2 her son was studying with difficulties. He was always absent from school because of failure to raise the needed school fees.
“In a term my son would study for only 2 months instead of 3, and this affected his performance in class even though he had joined secondary school with first grade” notes Tumuheirwe.
The widow went on to say that his performance worsened due to being a non-resident, and needing to travel a long distance to school every day. Above all, she could not afford to provide him with paraffin that would give him the light he needed to revise his notes at night.
“Because I did not have money, I used to give priority to buying books and pens for my son over paraffin for reading at night. Yet I knew he needed to revise his notes at night,” said Jovia.
With support from Africare’s COPE project in Uganda, the widow says that she was relieved of the burden of school fees.
“ When Africare started supporting my son, he was able to reside at school and had enough time to revise his notes as he accessed electricity light which he was missing. In addition he was relieved of the burden of traveling the long distance and this improved his academic performance in class and in senior four he was the best student with 16 aggregates in 8 subjects.” Jovia said proudly.
Because her son performed well, Jovia says that their Area Member of Parliament gave him a scholarship in one of the private schools in Ntungamo where he completed senior six and is now doing a diploma course in Electric Engineering on government sponsorship.
“If it was not Africare, I don’t think my son would have received the support from our Area Member of Parliament who enabled him to complete his senior six,” notes Jovia.
Because Africare supported her son, the widow says that she was able to save some little money which she used to buy a piece of land where she grows crops for food and selling to get income.
The widow acknowledges that Africare has helped achieve her long cherished dream of having her only son attain a certain level of education something she could not believe could happen.