Uganda Ethics Network Outreach (UENO) recently launched a PTF funded project in Manafwa, a large rural district along the Kenyan border in Eastern Uganda. The project aims to target misappropriation of funds, poor procurement practices and overall government service delivery at the district level for education.
In Uganda, the responsibility for managing schools lies with district governing bodies. Oversight of these institutions has been tasked to citizens who are empowered to form School Management Committees (SMCs). However, a recent national survey found that over 60% of Ugandans were unaware of their role in this newly devolved form of public service delivery. The goal of UENO’s project is to equip SMCs with basic financial management skills and procurement process knowledge to hold local governments accountable.
UENO has targeted 16 schools ear-marked for government funding that are particularly ripe for corruption. The project kicked off with a two day training session for the 120 community-selected individuals who will form the SMCs of targeted schools.
Day one of the workshop was an eye-opening experience for participants, many of whom were engaging with the subject matter for the first time. The facilitator took time to elaborate on core concepts and themes and there was vibrant discussion during the break out sessions.
120 participants attended the two day workshop, some traveling long distances at personal expense. The agenda was packed with lively speakers. Participants were fully engaged and responded with enthusiasm. Though pelting rain on the building’s corrugated metal roof delayed the final speech from the District Commisioner, participants didn’t mind that the workshop had exceeded its expected completion, prefering to make sure they had command of their new skills before leaving.
UENO’s executive director Alice Wabule was quick to point out that the most difficult tasks still lay ahead; ensuring that SMCs hold their enthusiasm for monitoring and retain their newly established skills. UENO will make site visits on a monthly basis over the coming year to each school in order to track the progress of SMCs and assist as needed. Far and away, the most encouraging take away from the workshop has been the level of enthusiam generated by participants, demonstrating how access to information can be a catalyst for action.