Start to Finish

The Start to Finish Programme is a long-term investment in a child’s future. Through high quality education, individual mentoring and sports coaching, we aim to give under--‐privileged and vulnerable Ugandan children the chance to realise their full potential in education, in sport and in life. 

The Start to Finish programme forms the basis of UCTF’s operations. As the name suggests, the project objective is to support a child right through their education – from early primary school, when we take them on, to the end of tertiary education. We only support children from families or backgrounds who otherwise would not have been able to fund their education. Also, our scholarships are always contingent on good attitude and sustained performance in school.

Otherwise there are no criteria; we welcome children regardless of religion, gender or ethnicity. ‘Support’ is not payment of school fees alone. We think that by investing a little more in each child, we can greatly increase the returns for them in the future. So we pursue the following principles with each of our members:

  • A ‘whole child’ approach: we focus not only on academic and sports results as a measure of a child’s well-being, but we take a holistic and comprehensive view; we monitor and evaluate the child as a whole (i.e. relationship with peers, teachers, coach, behaviour in and out of school, careers advice etc.)
  • High-quality learning: we ensure all our beneficiaries receive the best possible education and training via working with a carefully selected number of institutions and schools which maintain high academic standards, strong management and dedicated teaching staff. All our mentors and sports coaches have been professionally trained and selected to deliver quality training.
  • Personalised: each child is unique and different in his or her needs, strengths and aspirations; we make sure that each beneficiary is personally monitored and supported in their individual needs as well as encouraged to develop their natural talents.
  • Long-term commitment: our programme is not a quick fix or temporary solution for school dropouts. We commit to a long-term journey of providing high-quality education and sports to offer a child a genuine life-changing opportunity. 

Ultimately, we want to take Uganda’s most disadvantaged children, and give them the tools to become well-educated, rounded and self-assured young people who can go on to shape Uganda society and break the poverty cycle.

Key project partners:

  • Naguru Infant Primary School
  • Grace Primary School
  • Mukono Parents Secondary School
  • St Lawrence Sonde Secondary School
  • Busoga College Mwiri
  • Mbale Senior Secondary School
  • Makerere University
  • Kyambogo University
  • Uganda Christian University
  • Islamic University In Uganda
  • Nakawa ICT Training Institute
  • St. Benedict Tech. School
  • Artfield Institute
  • Nakawa Vocational Training Institute
  • Lady Valeria Training Institute
  • Uganda Tennis Association
  • Uganda Cricket Association

The above are sports associations and educational institutions based in Uganda, where our members are attending.

The Mvule Trust, another organisation offering scholarships in Uganda, reports that scholarship beneficiaries will end up supporting an average of two siblings through their education. They also found that families with one scholarship recipient were much more likely to actively search for school fees for their other children ‐ they were 'energized to educate'.

Eventually the beneficiary will complete their studies and find employment, and go on to lift their families out of poverty. Our alumni go on to support their families and communities and break the cycle of poverty – one graduate works as an auditor and has recently completed building a house for his mother and siblings. Another works for a major telecoms provider, but runs his own community sports NGO in Gulu, Northern Uganda. A third offers free hockey coaching to slum kids in his spare time between school and college. Sending just one member of the community to university can also provide hope and optimism to neighbours, extended family and friends; it demonstrates that poverty does not have to be a 'trap'.

Although 94% of Ugandan children enrol in primary school each year, 71% dropout before completing the final class P7. This means that only 3 out of 10 children who start Primary School in 2015 will finish by 2021. Children drop out of school for a number of reasons; however, financial constrains are often a decisive factor. Despite the government’s effort to cover costs of teachers and schools, more than 40% of Ugandans find additional school expenses, such as uniforms, books and supplies, unaffordable. As a result, children who drop out their primary school are condemned to a marginalised and vulnerable life. Aside from limited employment opportunities, youngsters that complete primary education are 40% less likely to contract the AIDS virus or delay teenage pregnancy which is at 25%. But if a child gets to secondary school, there is still only a one in three chance that she will complete her studies. And even the lucky ones who are able to complete a university degree have to compete with 400,000 other new workers for 9,000 jobs in the formal economy.

Despite development in the overall Ugandan economy, the outlook is still grim for Uganda’s youth. The odds are most particularly stacked against children growing up in poor families. UCTF’s Start to Finish programme can act as a critical protective factor in childhood: not only fostering emotional, social and physical wellbeing, and providing skills for future success, but making the difference between life and death.


Process

Inputs:

Child Criteria:

  • Financial Need* (25%)
  • Academic Excellence (25%)
  • Sporting Aptitude (15%)
  • Age (younger) (25%)
  • Location (10%) 

*inc: parental background:

  • Employment
  • Capacity to Support
  • Home Environment

UCTF scholars are selected through an open application run every year. Application forms are released into local community in Kampala, to be filled out and returned to UCTF offices. The form asks for details of the child’s family, background and interests. It also requires that school reports for the child’s last two terms be provided, along with a letter from their schools confirming the family’s financial need.

These applications are then whittled down to a shortlist. The criteria are academic performance, correct age (children around 6--‐9 are most likely to succeed) and neediness. UCTF staff will then visit the home of every child on the shortlist, to confirm the details on the application and analyse the family’s financial situation. The children and families are then interviewed. In the interview, we look to confirm the truth of all the details on the application form. In the end, the scholarships will be given to children with academic potential who are in the worst financial situation.

Currently only 21% of children complete secondary education, even with the introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE) for those children who obtain the equivalent of a grade C or above at the end of primary school.