The Batwa in six districts in western Uganda are among the minority tribes being threatened by extinction due to isolation, discrimination, high maternity rates, high mortality rate and high illiteracy rate as recorded by the health centers that have taken Batwa health and sanitation records.
According to the report, the average rate of unemployment among Batwa is at 97.3% in all 6 districts. Their rights have always been abused in a permanent vicious circle of poverty. Only a very few Batwa have positions in the public services, because of low levels of education and vocational training. Only one Batwa has graduated in Uganda, Alice Nyamihanda (as reported by the BBC on 29thOctober 2010). Over 150 Batwa have been educated in Kisoro District, but have dropped-out before they complete their studies due to marginalization and discrimination and school fees charges secondary and university schools which are not affordable to the batwa people. This number of batwa children have been supported by organizations who latter stopped sponsoring them due lack of donations to support these batwa children to proceed on with higher studies.
It is therefore clear that there is a strong need for a batwa skills and vocational training centre. This school would be especially for Batwa children and will be run by the Batwa Indigenous Development Organization (BIDO). The board of the Organization will decide on the type of school, the methods of teaching, the appointing of the staff and the process of securing or hiring the place/building where this learning center should be. The school will be therefore developed and run by batwa, for the batwa community, tailored to the needs of these Batwa children. The uganda wild life authority will also play a big role of supervising the project right from its establishment and within its implementation.
The major concern of this project is to offer the Batwa youth generation a better living by equipping them with special live skills for their economic empowerment.
Since the batwa people have not been considered within the public employment which may have been due to low levels of education, low skilled due to lack of vocational knowledge setting up a skills development center for the batwa youth may be the right option towards solving the problem of poverty and unemployment among the batwa youth.
This project will be different as it will be designed and run by the community for the community – addressing the children’s specific needs in a way that builds pride, rather than shame, in the Twa identity and works with, rather than against, our indigenous knowledge. Elders will be involved in the project at all stages from design to monitoring and, especially, in teaching indigenous knowledge to the students. The school will secure permits to allow the children to access the forest. Elders can then teach cultural practices and practical skills such as honey collecting, hunting and gathering as an integral part of the school curriculum.
The school will initially cater at first for approximately 150 children (Boys – 85 and Girls – 65) from six Batwa communities in Kirundo sub-district, on the edge of Bwindi. The school will need to employ several teachers to cater the needs of the students. The community will provide additional teaching staff and volunteers, especially the elders who will focus on Twa cultural values.
There is an urgent need for this school. One parent said, “In the coming years there will no Twas any more if our children are taught other cultures than ours.” Another said, “We were removed from our forest and they are forcing us to adapt but schooling will make my children hate me,” because at current schools Batwa children are made to feel so ashamed of themselves, their families, their homes and their people.
This project will be a unique project among the projects where the batwa youth will be offered to free skills education from this skills training center.
At the starting of this project atleast 50 batwa youth will be registered following the available learning equipments. And two skills will start immediately at the opening of this skills learning center.
Both Tailoring and sewing will be implemented and latter carpentry will be introduced in the learning center after seeing the real start up of this initial skills work.
We hope to secure an area or a ready constructed building within rushaga village,kirundo sub county, kisoro district uganda. For the setup of this learning center. We will also ensure that this project is accessible to all the batwa communities by selecting batwa youth from each of the batwa community around kisoro district.
The project will be initiated and implemented by the batwa community organization (bido) Parterning with uganda wild life authority who will provide the community officer to do the supervision of the project progress. The clear financial will be properly represented to ensure proper use of financial resources.