Mvule Trust was set up in late 2005 with a grant from the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Fund, now called Arcadia (www.arcadiafund.org.uk). This grant laid the foundation for a small professional organization. Mvule Trust is staffed by young women who achieved their education thanks to scholarships. They have deep experiential knowledge of the struggle to complete secondary school and university.
Besides providing school fees, Mvule Trust has a rigorous programme of school visits and follow up to help students deal with formidable life challenges: 75% of beneficiaries have lost either one or both parents. Mvule Trust staff is frequently in the field, listening to and encouraging the students. It also holds meetings with parents and guardians. This is particularly crucial for female students as some parents perceive greater economic advantages in their daughters marrying rather than remaining in school.
In 2006 Mvule Trust enrolled 857 students in the first year of secondary school: 75% of this cohort were females. Of the 857 students, 80% (680) completed their O levels exams in 2009 and 26% (224) completed their A level exams in 2011. This is an impressive survival rate, although the fact that it was not higher shows that lack of school fees is not the only reason young people are not in school.
A levels are the exams at the end of the Ugandan secondary system. Not every young person wants to take that educational route. So, Mvule Trust supported 169 of the 857 original students from 2006 to “branch” into trainings for professions after their O level exams in 2009. Among other courses, 30 started studying to be primary teachers, 14 to be secondary school teachers, 50 to be nurses, midwives, clinical officers or lab technicians, and 13 to be foresters or agriculturalists. Most will qualify in their respective professions in 2012.
In only six years of operation, Mvule Trust has seen 452 beneficiaries graduate with certificates or diplomas in health sciences (nurses, clinical officers, environmental health officers and lab technicians), agriculture, forestry, and vocational studies and teaching. In 2011 Mvule Trust embarked upon a “tracer study” to find out what had happened to these young people as well as other groups (like those that did not complete O levels, those that Mvule Trust supported only through O levels, and so on).
The tracer study located 438 former beneficiaries. Mvule Trust was excited to find out that former beneficiaries with professional qualifications were almost all in employment. They were supporting on average two younger siblings in school, were almost all building a house for their parents, and described themselves as “out of poverty”.
In 2012, the Trust is supporting 55 young people in secondary school and 37 young people at university on a variety of courses. In between these two levels of the educational system, Mvule is supporting 58 young people to qualify as foresters and 22 to qualify as agriculturalists;. It is supporting 117 to train as nurses, lab technicians/clinical and environmental health officers (85%of whom are female) and 23 young people (of whom 86% are female) to complete their teacher training. Mvule Trust encourages girls to train as teachers because less than 30% of primary teachers in Uganda are female. It also supports over 20 young people on vocational courses such as baking.
In all, Mvule Trust supported 1050 young people in education in 2011. It plans to support 535 in education in 2012.