Expanding Fiscal Space for Social Protection: The Case for Adolescent-oriented Services

This brief focuses on fiscal space for adolescent-oriented services (notably in health and education) within the broader social protection framework. There are several reasons for focusing on adolescent services in Uganda, including their increasing needs, given the devastating effects of COVID-19. First, adolescents aged 10-19 years account for a substantial proportion of Uganda’s population—26 per cent and have specific needs arising from their current demographic status. Second, adolescents face the highest risk of school dropout among school going children, and adolescents from poor households are significantly less likely to continue school. Nearly half of the children aged 18-19 years were out of school, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Third, extended school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly increased the risks faced by adolescents. The stay-at-home and school closure measures adopted exposed children to violence at home, while access to violence prevention and response services was severely disrupted. In addition, the continued school closures are likely to push so many children into early child labour activities. Fourth, Uganda has an extremely high rate of teenage pregnancies, which affect school continuation for girls. Finally, in the current government spending on education and learning, several specific needs for adolescent remain unfunded, e.g. inputs to address menstrual hygiene. Consequently, this policy brief examines the fiscal space for social protection—focusing on adolescent services.