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
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