Superwoman School

Confidence is transforming girls at Awach SS through the SuperWoman Project

Teacher Florence, LFT Awach SS

Gulu district, is one of two districts in Uganda where the DREAMS SuperWoman project is being implemented. Under the theme; Keeping Girls in School, the SuperWoman aims at reducing the alarming school dropout rate among girls. Working to make school exciting through the SuperWoman activities and building the confidence of these girls, the project results are already visible not only among the girls impacted, but also in their schools and communities.

With her graceful smile, Teacher Florence, the SuperWoman Lead Female Teacher (LFT) welcomes oue team to Awach Secondary School, one of 5 secondary schools in Gulu district implementing the DREAMS SuperWoman project.

Located in the northern part of Uganda, both the town of Awach and Awach Secondary School were at the epicenter of the armed Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict that once plagued the region for over 20 years. Throughout that time, the school relocated and remained open, but returned home to Awach in 2009 to help the community recover after the conflict.

It is no wonder that girls from this school are very much eager to see and learn about what lies outside their town.


SuperWomen from Awach SS smile for the camera

 

Sitting down with Tr. Florence to talk about the impact of the project on the girls in her school, I’m quick to ask if she has noticed any significant change in behavior from the girls, since SuperWoman was introduced in the school in October 2016.

“Confidence,” she says proudly. The girls, especially those who have directly participated in the SuperWoman activates like the SuperWoman school meetings, drama, debate and easy writing have exhibited a higher level of confidence than  before. These girls, she adds are now confident enough to approach and engage with peers of the opposite sex as well as male staff, unlike before.   

Asked about the challenges commonly faced girls in Awach, teacher Florence points out the long distances walked to and from school and sexual harassment these girls often endure from the strangers they meet. She mentions one more challenge that has seen more girls miss school in Awach. Being a rural setting, girls are asked to stay home and help out in the garden. She gives an example of a girl who once stayed away from school for one week to help with the harvesting. And so with the weeding, planting and harvesting seasons, comes a higher dropout rate of girls from school, who sometimes eventually lose interest in pursuing their studies.

Teacher Florence is proud to see the gradual transformation of the girls, especially those who have taken part in the SuperWoman activities. Not only are they more confident and outspoken, they have taken the bold step of contesting for leadership positions in school.

"I used to keep an emergency box of sanitary towels here in my office that was never used. But since SuperWoman was introduced in my school, the girls are no longer shy, but confident enough to come ask for the sanitary towels."

We had the opportunity to meet some of them like Anena Jennifer who is currently running for the post of Head of Health Prefect. With a playful smile, Jennifer testifies how she was once a very lazy girl who did not like being assigned any school work let alone home chaos. All this changed when she was part of the girls selected to come to Kampala and produce their SuperWoman radio show on the topic oh “Girls and Leadership.” This was Jennifer’s turning point as she realized her potential, only if she stopped being lazy and became more confident to take on responsibilities.

In her well-pressed pure white uniform shirt, Jennifer believes she is ready to give the other contestants a run for their money to win the Head of Health Prefects position.

As both a mother and a busy school English and Literature teacher, Florence is quick to add that it is not only the girls benefiting from this project.

She considers the once-a-month trip to Kampala a as her “Me time” away from her home and school duties. This is when the girls selected from the school have to travel to Kampala to the Wizarts Foundation studios to produce their radio show.

While in Kampala, it is not work without play. The girls are given a tour of the city to see what makes Kampala buzz with life. In addition to this, indoor and outdoor games are available at the SuperWoman house where the girls and their Lead female teacher stay for the two days they are in Kampala.

It is these two days that teacher Florence gets to enjoy and relax as she monitors the girls produce their radio show.

She hopes that the SuperWoman continues to extend to other schools as it gives girls a better sense of focus on their education while at the same time, boosts their confidence and allows them to dream, bigger.