|Life Skills for Young Ugandans - Primary Teachers' Training Manual (UNICEF, 190 p.)|
For children to grow and develop, they have to depend on parents, guardians and people around them for food, shelter, medical care and all other requirements. In traditional societies, the wisdom passed on to children was to enable them stay alive, fit into their society and continue to live like the adults whom they found in the community. The wisdom was passed in packages of noms and rules such as; how to talk to adults, how to behave in a manner expected of ones gender, or generally, how to live acceptably in society.
The communities were tight, with little mobility and outside influence. Their survival depended on social coherence. Communities of today are much more complex. There is a quest for development and more interaction with the outside world. Rural to urban migration is on the increase. Children and adolescents travel and interact much more than their counterparts of the traditional communities. As a result, they meet more ideas that put demands on them. The media exert a great deal of influence on children and adolescents, far more than the acquisition of wisdom from parents.
There are many challenges to todays societies. Armed conflict and civil strifes of today are more devastating than the ethnic battles that used to be fought with spears. Children are always the easiest victims to such conflicts. Man-made evils, such as defilement, target the child who has the least capability of self defence. Though humanity has the capacity to enjoy better health today than the predecessors did, there are numerous challenges that continue to threaten the human race.
It therefore makes a great deal of sense that ways must be found for the protection of children, adolescents, and the girl-child in particular, more than was done by traditional societies. The Government of Uganda is committed to this protection of the child. This is why, through the current Government of Uganda/UNICEF country programme (1995-2000) there is a strong component of Basic Education, Child Care and Adolescent Development (BECCAD). Within this component, passing on to children the wisdom that can enable them lead healthy and satisfying lives despite todays challenges is considered critical for child care, protection and development. It is a way of empowering the children, having realized that the traditional wisdom may not be sufficient for the more complex societies of today. This is thus the basis on which Life Skills has been introduced in the Ugandan Society.
Uganda is committed to empowering children and adolescents by equipping them with skills for choosing what to do among several alternative courses of action, skills for making informed decisions; the ability to act, unhampered by forces around them, so long as they are convinced of the correctness of the stand to be taken. This may sound like going against certain traditional practices where the child is supposed to be dormant and not to question adult actions. We have to filter and sieve the traditional values carefully so that only the positive and functional aspects are adopted. Tradition Values that are not harmful to the children and adults must be preserved. When for example, respecting adult actions leads a child into being raped or defiled, then the child must be equipped with the skills to know when there is a likelihood of danger and to take appropriate action in good time. The children must always be alert.
In this spirit, the Life Skills Initiative is being introduced into schools, Teacher Colleges and Institutes as part of the education of children and adolescents.
It is hoped that the trainers, for whom this manual has been prepared, will continue to be promoters of Life Skills among Ugandan adolescents. The future of the countrys young ones is in their hands.
Ag. Commissioner for Education Inspectorate