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Education should be about teaching life skills

In January 2020, before COVID-19 hit Uganda and forced us into a lockdown, CPAR Uganda had the opportunity to launch our project: “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators against Poverty” for which we are online fundraising in partnership with the GlobalGiving Foundation.

As lead mentor, it is exciting that knowledge that I prior acquired in the 1990s while working alongside my mentor, Stan Burkey, as we implemented the Change Agent Training Programme, is still relevant.

Specifically, the unique system which Burkey developed of giving participants their feeding allocation upfront in form of cash; and then requiring them, as a group, to take full responsibility for their cash in a group fund and their feeding during the training.

We effectively used Burkey’s system in conducting “Module I: Understanding Poverty in Rural Uganda” of our mentoring programme. For a duration of 24 days of non-residential training, the young adults participating in our programme were required to do the budgeting for their food; the purchasing of the food items; the hiring of cooks; and the supervision of the cooks.

Stan Burkey, at our Entebbe Office, voluntarily assisting with the selection of young adults for our mentoring programme.

Utilising donations to CPAR Uganda that we received via GlobalGiving, we gave each of our innovators in training a total feeding stipend of Ug.shs 168,000 (one hundred and sixty thousand shillings) for the 24-days of training.

As a group, they decided that each contributes Ug.shs 120,000 (one hundred and twenty thousand shillings) to the group feeding fund; and thus instantly each retained Ug.shs 48,000 (fourty eight thousand shillings) as pocket money and which they may have used to cover other expenses for them participatng in the training.

Right away, they began to appreciate the philosophy of ‘living within one’s means’ and the feasibility of one being able to generate personal savings even from small amounts of money. The feeding stipend that they received was Ug.shs 7,000 per day per person.

Female innovators in a group discssion during their Module I Training Sessons

The group decided that they each contribute Ug.shs 5,000 per day per person to the feeding fund; which instantly generated a saving of Ug.shs 2,000 per day per person.

In addition, according to the actual food purchasing forms for their 24 days of training, they spent, on average, Ug.shs 4,100 (four thousand one hundred shillings) on feeding per day per person. This means that at the end of the training they shared dividends of Ug.shs 900 per day per person.

Total savings which our innovators in training each made from their feeding allocation, therefore, were at least 2,900 per day per person (2,000 instantly at the beginning and 900 at end of training) – a total of Ug.shs 69,600 (sixty nine thousand six hundred shillings) for the 24 days per person; which was 41 percent of their feeding allocation.

We consumed four meals per day – breakfast, mid-morning refreshements, lunch and mid-afternoon refreshements. A review of actual food items purchased shows that during the 24 days of training we ate fairy nutritionally balanced food.

Food items purchased were: milk, eggs, bread, groundnuts, rice, amaranth, sweet bananas, cassava, millet, eggplants, tomatoes, pineapples, onions, beef, margarine, matooke (cooking banana), potatoes, sugar, cooking oil, salt, cabbages, chicken, carrots, green peppers, beans, cowpeas leaves, mandanzi, passion fruits, oranges, tea leaves, seasoning, Shea oil, lemons, fish, sim sim (sesame), and maize flour.

Post training, one of the innovators, Gumkit Ann Parlaker, shared how she is now practically using her learning to track daily expenses at her home and which has ensured that they are no longer spending a lot of money unecessarily.

Male innovators in group discussions during their Module I training sessions.

No doubt, Burkey’s unique feeding allocation method continues to prove effective in providing a setup for participants to practically experience and learn such life skills as:

  • Participatory group decision making
  • Conflict management and resolution
  • Financial management and accountability
  • Budgeting and budget control
  • Making a nutritionally balanced menu for humans
  • Culture of saving

16 responses to “Education should be about teaching life skills”

  1. Spending in my father’s household is no longer fwaa like back in the days before acquiring the skills. And I look forward to passing on the skills to my other generation because it is surely a life lesson


  2. Besides the knowledge I has before, I realized and proved that learning is a process that never stops provided someone still lives.
    I was empowered, educated, learnt more even as far as engagement in horticulture and at home now, I fully utilized the available small pieces of land to cultivate vegetables and planted fruits around home as well and I have expanded my experience to my neighbors, and they practice the same. All thanks to CPAR Uganda.


  3. The 24 days training was indeed a great one. Other than making New friends, me personally I gained a lot of knowledge, first on the balanced diet aspect, I was able to realize that my small family was actually starving due to the poor diet, given the fact that I have a little child who is less than 5years and needed the best diet as per his growth, but thanks to Cpar Uganda for being an eye opener to me, secondly, i was able to cut on unnecessary expenses yet giving my family a better diet and feeding as compared to before, after the knowledge I acquired from Cpar on income spending, I realized that there was lesser spending weekly and more saving was done, and last but not least, I was able to gain more knowledge on how to attain income using the resources around… I’m soon becoming and will testify to this.. Thanks Cpar Uganda through our lead mentor, Ms Nora Owaraga… hoping to gain more knowledge from you…


    • Great insights into how the training was useful to you and that you are practically using it to fight against poverty and multiple levels. We hope you will be able to make it to the training on Cash Flows!


  4. Once again am so grateful for the training we were given. If there is something I really lacked then it was a saving culture. How I wished I got the knowledge before completing school, am sure savings from my pocket money would have done something for me at the moment, I wasted money. But as they say better late than never, I have learnt to save, I had a small job for less than a month before lock down ruined it and from my savings, I was able to purchase two piglets and they are doing good. I don’t think I’ll ever waste money again. Thank you once again CPAR


    • Great feedback Acen. We are very excited that you may have the opportunity to continue your mentorship with us. And we really hope you will be able to participate in the training on Cash Flows!


  5. Once again am so humbled to be part of this platform and by going through this article I was able to learn more financial discipline which I plan to apply it in my saloon business which may lead me into something positive,thanks


    • Great. Knowlege is power they say and so power to you as you implement your new learning. And most importantly, that is why our next session on cash flows is very important.


  6. This a powerful message on financial discipline whereby it helps someone to live within the limits of you have


  7. Once a again am honored to be part of the young innovators benefitting from CPAR UG’S mentoring program.
    The savings culture that we learnt during the training bore fruits when we (innovators), started a savings group(innovators savings group) but due to lock down our group collapsed instantly as many of us were affected (Bencys restaurant established within lira learning centre suffered a big loss as most offices ( platform for labor action , Resident district commissioners , and makererer lira branch ) were closed, Sharon Enon , a secondary school teacher in Oyam district had no source of income due to closure of schools) hence the group was put on hold till further notice . We are looking forward to starting over a gain .

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Being practical has more power in learning, as am an ICT enthusiasts who handle daily practical ICT work I really appreciate the training I and my colleagues had in Jan 2020. I have tried my best to minimize my budgets to give me chance to save but also having a happy life amidst savings. However, it feels painful as sometimes I feel like purchasing something because I have come across but I always take my budget control seriously by handling priorities. This has helped me to achieved my plans of buying a motorcycle which I bought during this pandemic in June 2020 after saving from Dec-2019 and the training came in Jan-2020 at the right time that I was already practising saving, which made me to buy an affordable used motor bike (1,200,000/-) in July 2020 which can still help me for sometime as I look ahead to get a new motor bike in future. The motorbike has helped me save on bodaboda cost to go service computers and printers of my clients as I now put fuel in it and do little service compared to previous days where I need to hire a motorcycle per hour (3,000/- to 4,000/-) which was very costly.
    Being in business and practising self reliance life with a small ICT business, I have used part of the skills from the training on doing things in a group (the business am running has 3-persons am working with and at times issues do arise which needed to be handle either as a group or sometimes individually and may need administrative decision thinking but putting into considerations other members so that our business move on). Very soon, we shall be having end of year meeting to check on how we worked in 2020 and what next for 2021. I urged the management of CPAR to continue with such trainings and where need be, one day they can cover more geographical areas of our country Uganda. I extend my gratitude to all the donors both locally and internationally.

    Liked by 1 person

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