Investing in Period-Positive Schools

Protecting lives and safeguarding futures through supporting girls in schools

It is estimated that, as a consequence of the pandemic, 24million children worldwide may not return to school. 

Our partners have reported that current economic struggles have pushed families to send their girls into prostitution or early marriage, and recent reports from the district of Kumi have recorded teenage pregnancies across 73% of state schools.

Teams4U, through the Wales and Africa Grant Scheme, have secured funding to support 10 primary schools in Kumi in an effort to protect girls’ futures: 

Our project builds on our experience of tackling barriers to education, and is based on our comprehensive approach to ending Period Poverty – investing in provision, infrastructure, knowledge, and challenging stigma.

Re-usable Sanitary Pads

The cost of supplying sanitary products can be prohibitive for many families.

Studies done by our partners pre-COVID suggested few pupils had regular access to sanitary products and many had to resort to creative methods, such as cutting up pieces of their mattress, to attempt to stay in school during their periods.

Our partners manufacture washable sanitary pads in Kumi, designed for use in rural communities, and supply these to school pupils.

Menstrual Health, Hygiene & Sex Ed.

A recent report from the District Health Office indicated that only 20% of the region’s teachers had received training on delivering Menstrual Health and Sexual Reproductive Health education – the majority of which were trained by T4U. 

In our culture you can’t speak about sex in public. In our culture you cannot do a demonstration like how you are supposed to protect a young girl who is receiving her periods. But […] what we have been showed [today] can help us speak to the young ones and make them understand that this is information that is very beneficial to them.

Olupot Patrick Epudu, Youth Leader at South Teso Pentecostal Assemblies of God.

This project will expand on previous work, through providing training materials, resources and mentoring to the teachers, and other community leaders, on how to broach and teach on the topics of puberty, menstruation, reproduction, STIs and contraception.

Overcoming Stigma

As part of the training, we will also challenge harmful norms that often restrict girls and women participating within society, whilst menstruating.

Interviews with school pupils, regardless of gender, frequently described periods as ‘dirty’, ‘shameful’, and that girls should be excluded from community events, including Places of Worship, whilst on their periods.

We’ve developed specific ‘myth-busting’ lesson plans to help pupils explore many of these negative beliefs, and look at the facts and religious texts (where appropriate) behind them.

As a result, we have recorded a significant reduction in instances of period-shaming in schools that have participated in teaching Sexual Reproductive and Menstrual Health to their pupils.

Providing Privacy

In collaboration with Sanitation Africa Ltd we began a pilot project in 2021 to review the importance of providing Changing Rooms as part of Menstrual Hygiene provision in schools.

The onset of menstruation has been cited as a signal to boys and men, that a girl is sexually available, which greatly increases her risk of unprotected sex and sexual violence.

And yet 83% of district primary schools across Kumi do not have changing facilities, which are often referred to as necessary for girls’ to have privacy and space to handle menstruation, away from peering eyes, and dark, cramped and smelly latrines.

Our facilities will incorporate a privacy wall, access to water for washing, and waste-disposal (for non-reusable sanitary products).

Through this provision of appropriate sanitary wear and privacy-screened changing facilities, girl’s will be protected from unwanted sexual harassment.

Handwashing

91% of rural Uganda does not have access to plumbed water, therefore relying on rain-water collection, bore wells and underground springs.

Since 2017 we have been supporting schools to invest in improving their sanitation facilities by providing handwashing facilities outside latrines.

These tanks need filled by nearby water sources but provide pupils with a resource to wash their hands directly after visiting the latrine.

To date, T4U have installed 77 of these facilities across schools in the district and recorded a 27% drop in diarrhoeal-related school absence as a result.

As access to sanitation is an important, and often overlooked aspect of menstrual health, all schools who will benefit from the above project will have these handwashing facilities in place.

Please continue to support us to provide all schools in the Teso region of Eastern Uganda with these opportunities: