On 11th March 2015, African Revival was delighted to attend the commissioning of the newly-built girls’ dormitory block and refurbished library at Kitgum Core Primary College – work we carried out in partnership with the Japanese Embassy of Uganda.
Established in 2002, Kitgum Core Primary Teaching College is a government-owned teacher training college with whom we have partnered to tackle issues surrounding girls’ lack of attendance and consequently their performance in school. In the Eastern Acholi region, girl child retention in schools is a severe problem. Recent studies have shown that retention of girls in schools is significantly improved when female teachers are in schools to offer both social and academic support to young girls; in most cases they inspire girls to remain in school. However, only 27% of primary school teachers are female.
Our initial aim at Kitgum was to increase the number of female students in teacher training by 30%, because prior to 2013 there were twice as many male students to female students. The College only had sufficient accommodation for up to 52 female students in a college of 400 students at the time. As such, female trainee teachers had to sleep in classrooms, the library and at times, the shower block.
In 2013, under the supervision of our fantastic engineer Vincent, African Revival began the construction of one girls’ dormitory block complete with beds, which accommodated up to 48 female students. Then in 2014, with financial support from the Japanese Embassy, we built another dormitory block to accommodate another 48 female students, three blocks of latrines and a secure fence around the dormitory area, whilst also assisting the College to refurbish the library. The number of workspaces available for students now has increased from 16 to 86, and the college is able to enrol 19 more girls every year. We believe that these facilities will contribute towards our goal of providing more qualified female teachers to teach in primary schools within the region, so that girls are less likely to drop out of school.
After a great deal of work, the blocks are now ready to be used by the new co-hort of trainee teachers. To mark this significant occasion, the commissioning ceremony was attended by His Excellency Junzo Fujito, the ambassador of Japan to Uganda. Upon his arrival, His Excellency was accompanied to the new facilities by district dignitaries, African Revival and College staff, where he ceremoniously cut the ribbons, and unveiled the plaques, signifying the official opening of the blocks.
As the flags of Uganda and Japan rippled in the warm breeze, the college’s choir sang the countries’ national anthems before kindly presenting the Ambassador with a gift as an expression of thanks for the completed facilities. During the proceedings, Okwi Simon Charles, the principal of Kitgum Core Primary College, thanked African Revival and the Japanese Embassy for our support, stating that “all of us know the cumulative effect of donations and support, no matter how small, transforms lives”.
Mr Okwi went on to praise the difference the new dormitory and library will make to the academic performance of the trainee teachers. In particular, Mr Owki is delighted that the new dormitory has enabled the college to enrol more female trainees, providing them with “safe, secure and comfortable facilities”.
AR’s representative for the day, our finance manager Nicola Jones, took to the floor to thank our partner, the Japanese Embassy, for their generous financial contribution which made this project possible. Nicola also voiced our joy that this project will facilitate trainee teachers’ studies for many generations to come, and bring many more women into the education sector. Several district dignitaries (including the Resident District Commissioner and the District Education Officer) also kindly echoed their pleasure and gratitude for the completed project, before handing over to His Excellency himself who expressed his hope that the facilities will benefit students for many years to come.
As the speeches (interspersed with traditional dancing) concluded, it was our great pleasure to see the keys to the new girls’ dormitory handed to the female trainee teachers, who will be immediately moving into the rooms. One trainee, Jane, said “we are so excited to move into the new dormitory- they are so nice! It will be so much more comfortable for us; we can rest properly which will improve our studies”. Another trainee, Kay, added “I think that having these new facilities will help us learn better, and enable us to be great teachers to a new generation”.
African Revival is thrilled to be able to offer budding teachers like Kay and Jane a good home during their training, and good library facilities to ensure that these young women – and their male counter-parts – become motivated and inspiring teachers to young children across northern Uganda.
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Irene, 21, has been working at Anaka P7 School since the beginning of the 2015 academic year, teaching the first years of nursery; K1, K2 and K3. She told us: “I like my job because, we, the care-givers, learn so much from children. It is a privilege to love the children, take care of the children, and to show them good behaviour”.
When Irene started work at Anaka P7, she had not completed any teacher training, so the ECD training course she has completed through Jumpstart! has been invaluable in terms of equipping her with the skills needed to excel in teaching and optimize her pupils’ learning. Here, Irene shares the highlights of what she has learnt during the ECD training course:
“When I joined the school, I didn’t really know anything about teaching, but when I came on this course, I learnt the importance of welcoming and loving nursery students; to gather the little ones to you when they are nervous, singing and rhyming together. I am so glad African Revival enabled me to go on this course, so that I could learn how to be a good nursery teacher to my pupils.”
“This week I learnt that the first thing you should do when a child comes into a classroom or school for the first time, you should show love to that child, care for that child. When K1s arrive, they come crying and don’t want to enter the class so you have to carry the child and give him/her good care. Once the child is in the classroom, new pupils learn by doing- for example, learning songs with actions. I have also learnt that you need to plan short lessons so that the children don’t get tired and stop learning. Again, using rhymes and songs is a great way for children to learn.”
“In maths, you need to use creative materials, like bottles to count, or use songs like ‘ten little ducklings go out to play’, which helps teach children subtraction. Finally, I have also learnt the importance nurturing the full development of a child: so helping with their physical needs, helping the children to wash their hands, making sure they have food to eat and develop good eating habits”.
We are delighted to hear that the training course has been so beneficial to Irene; we are looking forward to visiting her classrooms soon!Posted in News | Leave a comment
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation is a non-profit international development organisation that we are lucky enough to partner with in Northern Uganda. They have just published their Uganda Report for the year, entitled “Promoting Inclusive solutions 2014-2015”, and in it they have praised the success of our school garden project in Paminyai Primary School! It is great to hear that students involved in the project have been able to grow and sell lots of vegetables from their school garden, with profits split amongst pupils (many have been able to buy school materials and contribute towards their school fees), the school pupils’ club and the school itself.
You can download and read the full report here
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March 3rd was a very exciting day for AR as we launched our new School Demonstration Gardens (SDG) project! The grand launch in Amuru, Northern Uganda brought together almost 100 project stakeholders – including representatives from our partner schools, district officers and the Chief Administrative Officer of the district.
As the day got underway Colleen (CEO) gave an overview of AR’s history, objectives and activities. Francis (Livelihoods Project Co-ordinator) then explained how the project will work and what we hope to achieve.
Over 3 years, the project will help 700 direct and 3,500 indirect beneficiaries through increased food security. Supported by our field-based agricultural officers, the parent and student led gardens will enable the whole community to learn more about nutrition, increase their entrepreneurial know-how and gain agricultural skills whilst growing nutritious crops. These skills will enable families to maximise their own yields at home and share their knowledge with others.
Everything we do at AR is motivated by our aim to improve access to, and quality of, education. We all know no-one can concentrate on an empty stomach; many children in Northern Uganda walk considerable distances to school every day under the hot sun without eating during the day. Some of the crops produced from the project will therefore contribute towards feeding students nutritious midday meals. This will increase their concentration and energy levels, positively impacting their academic performance. Moreover, the project will also bring parents’ into their children’s school more frequently, increasing their involvement with their children’s education. Parents’ presence on school property will also decrease teacher absenteeism and lateness, keeping them accountable.
We have already successfully implemented similar school garden projects in neighbouring districts (Abim, Nwoya and Agago) where groups have successfully produced coffee, rice and vegetables. Head teacher Walter Oduch from Paminyai Primary school explained how the garden project had helped his school at the launch. His school garden’s meals increased attendance from 315 students in 2012 to a whopping 708 students in 2015. Since implementing the garden, students’ test scores improved and more students than ever achievied top band grades.
The project was officially launched by the district’s Chief Administrative Officer who praised the programme, saying that “agriculture is key for development in this region; it is a pertinent area of investment in this district because agriculture is so important to Uganda”. He further echoed the programme’s benefits, agreeing that “a healthy mind needs food, and food is needed to sustain children, and keep them focused”. We are very thankful for the support and cooperation of the district’s officials in implementing this programme.
In true Ugandan style, the day finished with a hearty late lunch, giving guests an opportunity to mingle and speak to AR representatives in an informal setting. The next phase of this programme will involve mobilising parents and students to commence agricultural training. Here in Uganda, we are eagerly awaiting the imminent rains, so that planting may soon begin – as always, we will be bringing you updates along the way!
Thank you to the Bestseller Fund for funding this project.Posted in News | Leave a comment
Ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer with African Revival? Wonder no more! Over the next few weeks, we’re going to bring you interviews with our current volunteers, both in the UK and overseas, so you can find out exactly what our volunteers get up to and why their contribution to our work is so important.
Today, we’re talking to Jade Beakhouse – our Fundraising & Communications Volunteer based in our Gulu, Uganda office. Jade grew up in Africa, where she quickly developed a passion for international development – particularly gender issues. She recently completed a Master’s Degree in Humanitarian Studies at LSTM, during which time she conducted her dissertation research in Chad
How long have you been volunteering with African Revival?
I have been volunteering with AR in Gulu, Uganda for just over one month; I will be here until August 2015.
Have you ever volunteered before?
I have volunteered a fair bit in the past in Thailand, Mexico and Chad, as well as within the UK for several charitable organizations.
What made you get involved with African Revival originally?
I had just graduated from my Master’s in Humanitarian Studies, and was keen to pursue a career in International Development – which is a very competitive sector. When I saw a volunteering opportunity arise with AR in Uganda, it seemed like a great – and exciting – way to gain more experience within an international NGO whose key vision mirrored my own interests.
What kind of activities have you been involved in at AR?
At the moment, several new projects have just launched in Uganda, and so I have been spending a great deal of time visiting projects and attending community meetings. During these visits, I take photographs, collect data and conduct interviews so I can write up news reports and profiles of AR’s activities; this ensures that the UK fundraising team can give supporters regular updates on AR’s projects.
When I am in the office, I am often scouring local newspapers and websites for Ugandan-based calls for proposals, and looking out for good education stories and relevant research papers which can be used by the fundraising and comms team.
What’s the best thing about working with AR?
The first thing which struck me about AR is how lovely and kind everyone is, and so it is a very supportive environment to work in.
With my role, I feel very fortunate that I am able to spend lots of time in the field, and can experience first-hand how AR’s projects are benefitting children and communities. It is always so exciting to meet our partners and hear people’s stories!
What’s the most challenging thing about working with AR?
I haven’t come across any significant challenges (yet!), but at times, the internet connection in Gulu can be quite poor and so small tasks, like sending an e-mail, can take a long time which can really slow down my productivity!
If you’d like to apply to volunteer with us, check out Volunteers page to see our current vacancies.Posted in News | Leave a comment
Petra has been a nursery school teacher for 3 years. She took up a K3 teaching post at St.Kizito Bidati Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in the Nwoya District of Northern Uganda in February 2015. Petra, who is married with two children, loves her students:
“I think dealing with young children is a special gift from God. I feel I am gifted by God, because even when I didn’t have my own children, I had a real love for children. So I know I can look after my students correctly. I take good care of them because they are still young; they get scared sometimes, and need special attention so that they can grow up well.”
Thanks to Jumpstart!, Petra was recently able to complete a training course and achieve her ECD certificate:
“I have wanted to get a certificate in ECD, but the first time I was studying, I had to drop out for financial reasons. The second time I tried to gain my certificate, my mother fell sick, and I had to take care of her and give her financial assistance so I could not afford to finish my training. I didn’t think I would get another chance to get ECD training because I didn’t have any money. I am so pleased I am finally able to complete my studies!”
What has been the most significant thing you have learnt through this training course?
“I enjoyed this week so much; it really uplifted me. Before, I had no knowledge of lesson planning, and writing good timetables for the children. Now, I have gained a new style of lesson planning, and structuring the school day. I have also learnt how to handle the children, and the importance of showing them love and care; we should pay attention to each and every child in the classroom. I am confident that what I have learnt here will make me a very good teacher, because now I know what I should be doing in my classroom; this training will guide me in how I look after the children now, and how to speak to their parents to encourage them in helping their children to develop well.”
What is your greatest hope for your young students?
“I am teaching K3, I would like them to continue behaving in an orderly manner, so that they will be well prepared, and equipped to enter P3. When they progress to primary school, I hope that they won’t get disorganized, but that they will be good students. I would like to continue tracking their progress, and encourage them so that they will be good Ugandan citizens.”
We have been delighted to offer dedicated and caring teachers such as Petra the opportunity to complete ECD training. We believe that with committed and nurturing teachers, young children will be able to thrive in their nurseries; as such, it looks like Petra’s students are in very good hands!Posted in News | Leave a comment
Established in 2012, Anaka Nursery School is located in Northern Uganda’s Nwoya district and consists of two classes: K1 and K2 (serving around 110 enrolled students). Many nursery schools include a K3 class but the school’s head-teacher, Lily Rose, indicated that the pupils have been doing so well that most are ready for primary school after K2. The school has a room for each class; both are basic and simply furnished, but brightened by posters, colourful chalk on the blackboards, and pupils’ drawings proudly displayed by teachers.
In K1, 70 brand new pupils are adjusting well to their new routine, sitting politely on small wooden chairs, awaiting instructions from their teacher, Evelyn. As the class spends the morning learning new songs and dances, the children are clearly enchanted by Evelyn’s enthusiasm and gentleness. Although the classroom is rather dark, the children’s joyful singing lights up the space. Later, the pupils are given colouring and drawing activities, and they work well together as they huddle over their tables to complete their tasks.
Evelyn, trained in Early Childhood Development, loves to teach and shared that her favourite part of the job is singing and dancing with the children: “I have always wanted to be a nursery teacher and so I really enjoy spending my days with the children; we have a wonderful time together”.
As the Ugandan government does not pay the salaries of nursery school teachers, parents must pay school fees to ensure that committed teachers like Evelyn can remain employed. At Anaka, parents even contribute funds to provide nursery children with a filling lunchtime meal. One parent commented; “we are willing to work hand in hand with the school to ensure that our children do well in their classes”.
Although several hours spent in Evelyn’s classroom highlighted her excellent credentials as a teacher, she says that it is difficult to plan stimulating lessons and give children the best academic support when she has so few materials at her disposal. Anaka is limited by insufficient resources; children must share exercise books and pens, and they lack engaging learning tools needed to maximise their learning and development.
At African Revival, we want to see children offered the best start in life which is why Jumpstart! is working alongside nursery schools to equip classrooms with teaching materials and resources, enabling teachers to plan creative and academically sound lessons. We will also be building an outdoor play-area, where children will be able to develop their social skills in a safe and exciting atmosphere.
As part of the Jumpstart!, African Revival recently hosted a community sensitization meeting at Anaka, which communicated the importance of Early Childhood Development to parents and care-givers, with an record turn-out of 203! In Uganda, 29% students ultimately drop out of school because of their parents’ lack of interest in their education, so seeing so many parents fully committed to their young children’s development is a real joy and encouragement. We believe that with the support of the school leadership, parents, care-givers and Jumpstart!, each child at Anaka has every chance to succeed in nursery school, primary school and beyond.Posted in News | Leave a comment
This month at African Revival, we’re focusing on #Jumpstart (our nursery education project in Uganda) – we’ll be reporting back to you with pictures and feedback from the students, parents and teachers involved with the project. We’ll also be focusing on #OurPartners – telling you more about the amazing people we partner with, and letting you know how your organisation or company can get involved in our work.
We’ve got a very exciting #OurPartners update for you today! Long-term African Revival fundraiser and A&A Group employee Sam Newman took to the Swedish wilderness to raise funds for us in January, and he was kind enough to keep a journal throughout his mad 112km dog-sledding adventure.
Check out Sam’s journal here: Sam Newman’s Dog Sledding Journal
His fantastic fundraising efforts were also featured in the Richmond & Twickenham Times – well done Sam!
If or your company would like to take on an exciting fundraising challenge event for African Revival, you can! Click here for our full list of current challenge events (including Kilimanjaro 2016!) or contact us on 020 8939 3190, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @african_revival with the hashtag #OurPartners to talk through your own challenge event idea.
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On Friday 27th February, we were thrilled to join the teachers at the closing ceremony of the course. The teaching college’s resident principal, tutors, as well as AR staff (including our CEO Colleen Yuen) were all on hand to congratulate the group on their well-deserved achievement, and offer words of encouragement as the teachers return to their respective nursery classrooms across the Nwoya district.
The resident-principal, in his rousing speech, assured the teachers that the Ugandan government now recognizes ECD as the first formal stage of education, and so their new certificates in ECD will be well-respected. Indeed, during the past week, the teachers studied five modules which exposed them to ECD policy; principles, aims, and benefits of ECD within the context of Uganda. Practically, the group learnt about learning frameworks, lesson planning, and creative material production schemes.
As a result of undertaking this comprehensive training, Richard Ayella, our Education Programme Co-coordinator, encouraged the teachers:
“My hope and my expectation is that you won’t leave this teaching college the same; I have no doubt that you have transformed as teachers. Let me assure you that you will conclude this academic year as excellent teachers; you will be the standard that the community and parents will expect to see everywhere”.
However, teachers will not be alone in their efforts to improve their nursery classrooms. In our Jumpstart! partner schools, our field workers, Maxwell and Monica, are on hand to offer support and help to all our caregivers as they strive to provide the best learning environment possible for their young students.
As the ceremony drew to a close, we were delighted to hear from one of the teachers, Sunday, who passionately addressed his fellow teachers:
“People think it is useless to be a nursery teacher if you are male, but I have found that it is the perfect fit for my skills. I have done lots of different teacher training, but I have learnt many new things here.”
“The certificate which we have gained is not important in itself, the most important thing is the knowledge we have gained. Teachers, put your training actively into practice. This training has greatly improved our skills, and now, the knowledge we have acquired, let’s show it to other teachers so that they too can learn. Let’s demonstrate our lesson planning skills, and the way we feed and care for our pupils to other teachers”.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Once again, we extend our hearty congratulations to the teachers, and we look forward to visiting them in their classrooms soon as we work together to transform nurseries across Northern Uganda.
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