A Collaborative Learning and Adaptation (CLA) event was organized from 23 to 24 May 2023, in Kampala, Uganda for universities participating in the UNESCO Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future Plus (O3 Plus) Project.
“I joined the O3 Plus Project in July 2022 with little knowledge of how much the program would influence and transform not only my life but also the lives of many other young people out there. Growing up as the only girl among five boys with overly protective parents, I faced challenges in my social life. I had difficulty relating closely to boys and developed insecurities about my appearance. People in my circles often made derogatory comments, which shattered my dreams. However, through my involvement in the UNESCO O3 Plus Program, I gained confidence and can now speak about issues that affect me and other young people in my community.” declared Ms. Evelyn Alum, a student from Makerere University Jinja Campus, shared her testimony, life experience and the significance of the O3 Project that shaped her life.
The event brought together key stakeholders from the Ministries of Education, Health, and Gender, as well as Civil Society Organizations. The participating universities were represented by members of their Technical Working Groups, which include both university management teams and student representatives.
Evelyn and other participants shared implementation experiences, innovations, new learnings, and recommendations from universities. The occasion also celebrated key milestones achieved through the O3 Plus project, which include providing sexuality education to over 8,500 students, training 24 health workers in youth-friendly SRHR services, and equipping 200 peer educators to provide counseling. Additionally, accomplishments included orienting 30 medical students, developing a scorecard for SRHR service assessment, and finalizing guidelines for addressing harassment and violence in educational institutions.
The O3 Plus project fostered several innovations. Ndejje University showcased the 'Kyooto' innovation and the Life Skills App on Health Education developed by students. Kampala International University used a class-to-class sensitization model to increase access to SRH and life skills messages. Makerere University Main Campus showcased the engagement of students with disabilities in accessing life skills and health education, while Makerere University Jinja Campus demonstrated 'Girl Talk' and 'Parents-Students-Lecturers' engagement as some of their most successful innovations.
The occasion of the collaborative learning and adaptation session was also used to award accolades to best-performing students for their involvement in the various challenges during the 16 days of activism against the GBV campaign. Winners from the different competition categories and disciplines emerged from all the pilot universities.
All these initiatives are aimed at fostering positive health and gender equality outcomes among young people in Uganda. With a focus on young people in Higher and Tertiary Education Institutions (HTEIs), O3 Plus project is set to bring about sustained reductions in new HIV infections, unintended pregnancies, and sexual and gender-based violence, while empowering students to realize their full potential and contribute to their communities as future leaders.
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