Home Institution

University of Notre Dame

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


During the practicum period, the student researcher interned at MYDEL to gain a better understanding of the challenges and successes of the non-formal education (NFE) sector in urban Kampala, and in particular the Kisenyi neighborhood of Mengo. In the slum areas of Mengo, many children and youth are unable to afford school fees and thus are more susceptible to turn to a street life, which entails the following: extreme poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, young marriage, early childbirth, rape, or sexual abuse. MYDEL as an organization works to combat this cycle by instructing the children and youth of Mengo in basic academic courses and vocational training.

Through teaching in the functional literacy classroom for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and through interacting with the youth in vocational training, the researcher developed an insight into the reasons why these members of society are pushed away from formal education. In addition to participant observations and informal interviews, the researcher conducted formal interviews through home and community visits in Kisenyi and with the KCC coordinator for Basic Education for Urban Poverty Areas (BEUPA). The researcher also utilized literature relating to formal and NFE in Uganda from the SIT Resource Center and from the internet.

Individuals and families in Mengo are barely able or unable to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. Due to these pressing concerns, education of children and youth is often not a monetary priority for families. Programs such as MYDEL and BEUPA work to combat the educational inequalities children in the Kampala slums by offering basic classes and by attempting to find sponsors for children to be able to attend Universal Primary Education (UPE) schools. Both the staff of MYDEL and Kisenyi community members recognizes the importance of educating the children and the youth, but the success of NFE continues to be obstructed by inefficient and inconsistent classes, lack of financial and academic resources, and physical and emotional health problems of the community.

In attempting to implement NFE in Kisenyi, MYDEL encounters these and other challenges. Slum life is not conducive to consistent and productive academic and vocational classes. MYDEL counters these obstacles by providing for more than basic education with the sports, HIV/AIDS, counseling and other programs. The human being has needs outside of mere survival; though NFE does not transform the lives of its participants, it at least attempts to make amends for the injustices of birth and situation.


Education | Social Welfare


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