Acts of Impact

How 'EduBall' Uses Soccer to Keep Ugandan Children in School

October 20, 2022 Nicholas Hill Season 1 Episode 28
How 'EduBall' Uses Soccer to Keep Ugandan Children in School
Acts of Impact
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Acts of Impact
How 'EduBall' Uses Soccer to Keep Ugandan Children in School
Oct 20, 2022 Season 1 Episode 28
Nicholas Hill

Today we interview Kenneth Oroma. Ken is an alumnus of the Teach For Uganda Fellowship and co-founder of EduBall, a community-based organization that uses the game of Soccer to improve educational outcomes for children in Uganda. We’ll talk about the challenges Ugandan children face when it comes to literacy and staying in school, how Soccer teaches crucial skills for success, and how Eduball has brought together  students, parents, and the communities at large.

To support EduBall and discover more ways to help, visit them on Twitter at:

To learn more about the show, view transcripts, and more visit:

Special thanks to Kenneth and the EduBall team. Music by Alex Grohls.

Show Notes Transcript

Today we interview Kenneth Oroma. Ken is an alumnus of the Teach For Uganda Fellowship and co-founder of EduBall, a community-based organization that uses the game of Soccer to improve educational outcomes for children in Uganda. We’ll talk about the challenges Ugandan children face when it comes to literacy and staying in school, how Soccer teaches crucial skills for success, and how Eduball has brought together  students, parents, and the communities at large.

To support EduBall and discover more ways to help, visit them on Twitter at:

To learn more about the show, view transcripts, and more visit:

Special thanks to Kenneth and the EduBall team. Music by Alex Grohls.

Nicholas Hill  0:00  
You're listening to Acts of Impact, the show where we interview those who are making a positive difference in the world around us. I'm your host, Nicholas Hill. And today's guest is Kenneth Oroma. Ken is an alumnus of the Teach for Uganda fellowship. During which. In his final year, he co founded EduBall, a community based organization that uses the game of football to improve educational outcomes for children in Uganda. We'll talk about the challenges these children face when it comes to literacy and staying in school, how football teaches crucial skills for success and how EduBall has brought together students, parents and the communities at large. Let's get started.

Ken, welcome to the show.

Ken Oroma  0:57  
Thank you so much, Nick, for inviting me to the show. I'm so excited about sharing today.

Nicholas Hill  1:02  
I wonder can if you can help our listeners to understand kind of what are the challenges that are being faced in Uganda right now when it comes to student participation, student attendance, what are the things that that you were seeing that you wanted to change?

Ken Oroma  1:21  
In Uganda, they have been great efforts to make education accessible for all children, and today, more children attend school than ever before. However, there is also a big gap between the children in rural and urban communities with children in rural communities, showing lower educational outcomes. And such outcomes build on issues such as the high school irregularity, the high school dropouts, and in this rural communities 70% of the children drop out before finishing their seven year Primary School cycle. And these are the challenges I faced firsthand when I joined the Teach for Uganda fellowship in in 2019. But within my first three months, 16 out of 33 of my learners dropped out while I was there, and this student leaves school and get trapped in Child Labor child marriages and eventually gets stuck in poverty and unable to solve the various community challenges. And these are the challenges faced across various rural communities in Uganda today,

Nicholas Hill  2:32  
you say that even though the the country is doing a lot, and there's been a lot of improvements, there are still challenges with student dropout rates, you said about 70% of children dropping out. And you said that you personally saw about 16 of your 33 Children drop out? I mean, how does that make you feel? You know, you're in the teaching profession? I would imagine that that's pretty down hardening.

Ken Oroma  3:01  
It's really down tightening, especially with after all the effort and then there are other circumstances that you might have no control over and feel helpless as a teacher.

Nicholas Hill  3:13  
Absolutely. So you mentioned that also, the impact of this is huge, you know, people that are dropping out, their outcomes in life are tricky at best. And you mentioned things like child labor, and, you know, all of these outcomes that we're not looking for. So, let me ask first kind of how did you get involved with the Teach for Uganda fellowship and what was kind of your background coming into this,

Ken Oroma  3:43  
these challenges that the children in these various various rural communities go through. Similar to the challenges I went through as a young boy. As a young boy, I was forced into an internally displaced peoples camp along with many other Uganda's due to the El era, a war that lasted decades in northern Uganda. And while there, we faced a number of challenges daily camp fires, hunger, insecurity, and then I wanted to be an engineer, but you could see no way you could end up achieving your dreams in such situation. Going to school wasn't on the table and the focus was basically on on staying alive. Fortunately, I'm also lucky to be one of the few that that left these camps for my parents could afford life in another town and while in my new community, my teachers believed in me I was able to go to school and I developed a mindset that I could be wherever I wanted to be. So I went to school and at higher levels of education, I was awarded the government scholarship for my bachelor's degree Which after I came back to my original community many years later, and my then childhood friends hadn't received a similar education. They were trapped in the poverty like in the communities I work in today. And we're setting up a similar path for their children after marrying at very young ages. And seeing this difference with the children that had played with them, I believe that if they had received a similar education, then they would have reached their dreams as well. So I set out to break that cycle and help all children in seamless tuition receive a quality education and these challenges that I see children face every day, the same challenges I went through and seek out to break and teach for Uganda offered me that opportunity. And if there is a Nigerian teach for Uganda immediately after graduating from university, where I taught and practice teaching us leadership to help children in similar situations reach their full potential for for about for two years.

Nicholas Hill  6:07  
So going to, you know, recognizing the the fortune of receiving an education coming back to your hometown community, and seeing that, that not everyone is afforded that opportunity. And then immediately turning around and working to make a change in that area is really incredible. And I know that this is not the first thing you've been a part of to help these children. For example, I know that you were part of a group called literacy beyond the boundaries as well.

Ken Oroma  6:40  
So while teaching in this rural community as a fellow with Teach for Uganda, I guess I was part of a number of initiatives that aimed at improving educational outcomes for these children and improving the community as a wall, under one of the biggest challenges I faced while in this community was that my learners struggled with reading and comprehension. Yet all all resources, their examinations, the way they were assessed was based on their ability to read to read and comprehend what they read. And these learners were also much older than the classes in which they were this also means that the available materials introduce them to reading for children at a younger age, and the content was not appropriate for them. So I co founded literacy beyond boundaries, along with other young teachers within the Teach for Uganda fellowship to to produce age and reading level appropriate materials that we could use to accelerate reading and comprehension abilities for these children. That wasn't the only initiative. Also in 2021, with the support of the Euro Khan Foundation, and books to Africa, UK, were able to set up the community's first library with more than 3000 books all with the aim of helping improve their reading and, and comprehension abilities.

Nicholas Hill  8:12  
So recognizing that the amount of resources available to teach literacy and comprehension are not at the level that you would want partnering with other teachers to source those resources, and then ultimately getting over 3000 books that are available for reading, is that right? Yes, that's, that's really great. And I know that you are a part of a number of initiatives like that, I want to talk a little bit about Eduball and I guess I should ask first, is it EduBall or eduball?

Ken Oroma  8:49  
It is a Eduball from Education and football Eduball.

Nicholas Hill  8:54  
What is the history of this? So how did you kind of come to the realization that you could pair these things together to really engage the kids that you're working with? Can you just tell me kind of how EduBall was founded

Ken Oroma  9:08  
as a teacher then in the rural community. I was very far from all other resources that was poor internet connection, I had no electricity. So the days were always boring, and I would turn to my to my ball with the children in the evening. And every evening when I brought up my ball, you will see children that had not attended the entire school they would see children that had attended half school there, you'd see children that had missed school for four days come in to join and, and and play football and they loved the game and will do whatever it takes two to play the game. So what started out as a means of having fun and helping occupy my evenings, I realized could bring the children together. So I use that as an opportunity to impact the various skills that they missed when they stayed away from school. And with time when I got support from the euro Khan foundation got mentorship on how to use football to improve educational outcomes on a large scale and sing to more and more children come to school school enrollment increase, I then decided this is something that I could continue doing and continue using to improve educational outcomes. Now, this was at one school where I was then a teacher. But towards the end of my fellowship with Teach for Uganda, seeing the results this produced, I decided that I could do this in many other similar schools, schools with similar challenges in order to reach at the same results. And therefore, I and we need a colleague who was also running a similar football project at high school, co founded eligible to work in many other schools. And we now today work in various schools helping to improve educational outcomes using football.

Nicholas Hill  11:10  
What do you see as some of the skills that you're teaching? So you said that you're, you're teaching various skills that that they weren't kind of maybe learning in the classroom because they were dropping out or just not attending class? What are some of the skills what are some of the things they learned either through playing football or just on the field after after the game is over, etc.

Ken Oroma  11:36  
So about football, at first, it was just the game that with the expertise I gained and the power that we saw, we started embedding a number of these skills in the various football drills and football now just became a medium, the skills that we focused on what based on basically four dimensions we looked at the children's physical ability, which was mainly about their flexibility and fitness. And two, we looked at their cognitive ability, which focused on their concentration, their thinking critically and making key decisions, and many other mental abilities. And, three, we also look at the children's emotional development. And the fourth dimension we pay attention to is their, their social development. And the scale impacted these in these different dimensions include the collaboration, accountability, punctuality, communication, which we all embed in various football drills as, as the sessions go on, like, it's like another classroom where the children are learning unconsciously.

Nicholas Hill  12:56  
That's great. You're you're teaching social development, you're teaching physical development, intellectual development, the importance of, of attending class and some of these other areas. Let me ask you, you know, you mentioned when I was reading about your background, that you found that football was not only uniting the children and encouraging higher attendance rates, but it was also uniting the community, and really bringing the community and the administration together, as well as the parents, do you have an example of how the administration or the parents kind of got involved,

Ken Oroma  13:34  
it's not going to be children that, that love the game. The parents, the women, the people, different religions, different levels all love the game and come around to respective of their differences. And other than organizing children's games, we have organized games for different societal groupings. For example, we have had games of mothers playing against the girls, we have had games of the drunkards in the community playing against the youth we have had games of Boda Boda riders playing against the farmers and this have brought so many people together, including from neighboring villages, people come from other villages to come and, and watch the games and one specific one that helped bring together everyone was the game of the mothers versus the girls and because in a community where they believe that the girls should not play soccer, and then we have the mothers then themselves leading in the playing against their daughters to help bring together this so many communities helped start so many wider conversations on what they could do together as as a community and it is also the members of these communities that now come together to help us run the different acts ivities and being part of every decision making every planning process of activities and games has made them to, to work together to see that their children receive the proper education so that they see that their children reach their best. All because it started around coming together to enjoy the game. Now they are able to work together.

Nicholas Hill  15:25  
I am curious, with that game, the mothers versus the girls who won.

Ken Oroma  15:34  
We have had it a number of times the first game we had, when we were starting out, it was on Women's Day, the previous year and the girls 130. The girls have always won except one way or the the mother has won one gold

Nicholas Hill  15:48  
01 to zero, they got one in there. That's good. So you said that you and your co founder, you know, you started with one school, and you were teaching at that school, and then you realize that when he was doing this at another school, you combined forces and now you have three, how many children are you currently helping?

Ken Oroma  16:13  
Carry currently, especially with with the football league now, we now have more than 300 children participating in our different activities. And the growth and the bigger numbers has been really overwhelming. That's why we see so many parents and community members to to come in and help so many volunteers helping run the various activities. And this is across. This is across three schools where we are actively in over with with the Football League, we now have up to four schools with their fourth school joining in only to participate in the league.

Nicholas Hill  16:52  
What's talked a little bit about some of the other success that you've seen. So my understanding is that you created a this was Was this the first primary school football league that that was created in this area? Yes,

Ken Oroma  17:07  
this is the first primary school School Football League. The legs have always been left out for children in secondary school. And for primary schools. There have always been one day games where the children come together one day and play and it's done. Over we now have them playing on on a regular basis. And yeah, which we now have as of the first primary league in these communities.

Nicholas Hill  17:33  
And what have you seen when it comes to the dropout levels? I think you mentioned this a little bit earlier. But what success have you seen there? Have you seen those dropout levels reduce?

Ken Oroma  17:45  
At the beginning, I mentioned how 16 out of 33 of my children dropped out in my first three months in my school community. I spent two years in this community. And in my final year where at where I was actively running this, this football project where I was actively running the literacy beyond boundaries and many other initiatives. Only three children dropped out within the space of a year now, three children dropped out in the space of 12 months compared to 16 in in three months. And this is one of our great success stories that that I keep telling among others.

Nicholas Hill  18:29  
That's so incredible to see that huge reduction in dropout rate and setting out exactly what you were hoping to achieve. And then now seeing that you've expanded, you're helping more children, you're bringing these communities together. Let me ask you, you know, what are what's next for Ed Duvall? What is what are your ambitions for edible.

Ken Oroma  18:52  
And you're seeing what we are able to do a small group of young people using football and seeing the results that we could get, we hope to be able to reach more children in similar societies than schools through the use of this game and set them on a path to achieving higher education. And our schools have always had sports activities going on. We are not the first to bring in these sports activities. But the sports activities in these schools have always been focused on the development of the sport, the development of the expertise in the skills of the game other than development, holistic development of the individuals, and that's that as edible, we hope to be able to partner with a number of institutions and restructured the use of these spots in this school site that they're able to be used to holistically develop the children in all areas of their life and also Do running a Red Bull requires a great deal of resources. And so we also hope to be able to raise enough resources to have a number of people working for edible, full time to ensure that all children can achieve their full potential.

Nicholas Hill  20:17  
I want to talk about that as well. If someone is listening and wants to help, how can someone get involved to help EduBall

Ken Oroma  20:28  
someone can get involved in in a number of ways. For example, now, a number of volunteers help us run, the day to day activities basically run a full team of volunteers and one can get involved by bringing in their various skill to our team and volunteering with us either either remotely or physically, all you have to do is get in touch character, we do not have a website, we are working on one, but one can easily get in touch and volunteer with us. We also need support raising a number of resources takes a number of resources to run our daily activities. And anyone listening to us can support us by donating a football kit, one can donate football boots, and one can also support our football league the ongoing Football League for it takes a number of sources to have the Football League going on. And another way one can help the league to continue running is by buying the edible kit a personalized edible kit with the number of your choice and name on it. And for every kit that one buys, we are able to transport a child to a competitive game and is this games where they get to practice their land skills in a competitive environment.

Nicholas Hill  21:54  
So a lot of different ways that a listener can contribute. I'll make sure to post those links in the show notes on ways that they can contact you can I just want to say thank you for volunteering your time today to talk with us. And for the work that that you and Winnie are doing to help these children. I'm really excited to continue to follow EduBall and see where it goes. So thanks so much.

Ken Oroma  22:20  
Thank you so much, Nick. It's been great getting to share about our work and thanks for the opportunity.

Nicholas Hill  22:40  
Today's show was directed and produced by me with music from Alex scroll. Special thanks to our guests for their time and insight. If you like today's episode, please follow us wherever you listen to podcasts and consider leaving a review as it will help us to spread the word about the show. You can view more information about today's episode online at acts of Thank you for listening