Here at African Revival, we don’t want to see anyone’s education go down the toilet! That’s why we have supported many of our partner schools through implementing safe water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) initiatives, so that schools can meet their students’ most basic needs.
One of the schools whom we have supported in this area is Anaka P7 Primary School, one of our model schools – meaning that the standard of the school is now so high that it no longer needs our support in order to thrive. We have worked hard together to achieve this status, to ensure that the school excels in every way, including the bathroom facilities. Several years ago, the latrines in this large school were over-used, and threatened to over-fill and collapse. So, we set about building three new high quality latrine blocks for pupils and teachers.
Firstly, dedicated and talented teachers are one of the pillars of a good school, and so we wanted to make sure that the staff at Anaka had access to adequate and comfortable facilities; this is why we constructed a teacher’s latrine block on the school’s premises. In addition, we also built five boys’ latrines, which have enabled the school’s younger pupils from P1 to P3 to use separate toilets from the older boys. Conveniently, the latrine block is located closer to their classrooms- so now their mid-class toilet dash is a very short one!
For the girls, attached to their new toilet block are also several washing and changing rooms, equipped with soap and basins. We built these facilities to help girls better manage their periods, and reduce absenteeism from class during their monthly cycles. The school’s fantastic head-teacher, Lily-Rose, has ensured that there is enough free time in class time-tables for girls to bathe and change when necessary, without compromising girls’ lesson attendance. She told us:
“Class absenteeism among our girls has reduced, because they are comfortable at school and don’t fear because they have these facilities to help them. That is part of reason of why the dropout rates of girls have been completely reduced here. That isn’t the case at many schools where you will often find girls out of school, but not here anymore.”
Alongside the washing and changing facilities, the school has also held training sessions on how to manage periods, and keep a supply of sanitary items at school so that girls have access to everything they need during their periods. The senior woman teacher is happy to distribute these, and even lends spare uniforms when necessary.
Lily-Rose tells us that girls now know how to take care of themselves during their periods, which has built up their confidence as they grow into young women. As you can tell, the provision of latrines and washing rooms serves a greater purpose than just biological imperatives; these facilities also contribute to keeping children – especially girls – in school, so that they can fully complete their education with dignity.Posted in News | Leave a comment
We’ve recently welcomed Jessica Debicki to the UK office as an Events Management Volunteers. Jess is currently studying English Language and Linguistics at the University of York and hopes to pursue a career in the charity sector, focusing on education/world development. She has previously volunteered in Costa Rica and Bali, teaching English to children. She feels strongly about the importance of education for all, which is why she was drawn to African Revival. Jess loves to travel and hopes to visit every continent.
Having now volunteered with us for a few weeks, we caught up with Jess to see how she was finding life volunteering at African Revival.
How long have you been volunteering with AR?
I have been volunteering with AR since the beginning of July 2015.
Have you ever volunteered before?
Yes, in 2013 I volunteered in Bali and Costa Rica, teaching English to children.
What made you get involved with AR originally?
Ever since I first volunteered, I’ve wanted to do more. I believe education is essential so wanted to be involved with giving more people an opportunity to learn. I also want to go down the charity route once I finish university.
What kind of activities have you been involved in at AR?
I have been involved with helping Holly organising the upcoming Bond Ball which is really exciting.
What’s the best thing about working with AR?
Working as a team. Everyone in the office is so friendly.
What’s the most challenging thing about working with AR?
Trying to contact Bond stars for autographs?Posted in News | Leave a comment
Language is one of the biggest challenges faced by ECD centres in northern Uganda. Many parents want their children to learn English at nursery school, and pressure teachers to conduct lessons in English. However, it is important for ECD pupils to first gain a strong grasp of their Acholi mother-tongue, before introducing a secondary language in primary school. Indeed, the young pupils in the nurseries we support communicate in Acholi at home and when playing with their peers. As such, it can be confusing to come to school and use un-familiar English learning materials, full of complicated words.
As children learn better in their own language, we have partnered with the Acholi Language Board to support our ECD teachers in making appropriate Acholi instructional materials to give young pupils a strong command of Acholi. Over the past two days, our Jumpstart! teachers have gathered into two clusters (one in Koch Goma, and another kindly hosted by Anaka P7) made up of 22 teachers each, to attend an Acholi Materials Development workshop.
During the workshop, one of the Acholi Language Board trainers, Mattina, explained more about the importance of nurturing the children’s first language: “Acholi is the language children use at home; language is about culture- you cannot detach a child from their mother-tongue. Although parents want their children to learn English- because it is a sign of education-academic success starts with having a good grip of your own language first. That’s why we are helping teachers develop Acholi learning materials”.
Additionally, it is important to create learning aids which depict scenes and items from children’s own environments; using European exercise books or posters are often un-relatable for children living in rural Africa. Instead, using pictures of animals and scenes which are recognizable to children is much better, and more useful in expanding children’s everyday vocabulary. As such, the teachers fully submerged in the training, drawing flash cards of huts, household items, farming tools and a whole host of typically Ugandan scenes!
Mattina has been impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the teachers: “the teachers are busy! The teachers have a lot of energy, and have worked hard during the workshops”. One of the teachers who attended the workshop is Jackline, who has been teaching the K1s at Nwoya Public ECD for 5 years. Jackline has been busy making learning materials for her classroom: “I have been making lots of learning materials, depicting local items and scenes. I am going to put my new posters and story sequences in my classroom, and I hope it helps my pupils learn”. During the workshop, the Acholi Language Board also supported teachers in improve their own written and grammatical Acholi skills, which will help them in their classrooms, and writing reports to their pupils’ parents. Susan from St Kizito Bidati told us: “to be honest, I was always making mistakes with my written Acholi, and it was really embarrassing when parents would correct me. I really needed to improve these skills. Now, I feel more confident that with the (grammar) chart you have provided, I will make far fewer mistakes”.
Another aspect that trainers were keen to emphasise during the workshop is the importance of enabling children to learn through play. Mattina told the teachers: “80% of learning is playing; exams for very young children aren’t the way forward. So don’t worry too much about teaching tiny children letters and words at this stage. Instead, develop their story telling capabilities; you don’t need words, just show them pictures, and ask them to describe what is happening in the pictures. This really helps them develop their mental abilities, and oral skills.” As such, during the workshop, the teachers followed Mattina’s advice, and drew their own story sequences, many of which contained a good moral (helping others, and adopting good hygiene practices).
Our Uganda Country Director Peter is equally passionate about learning through play. As Peter visited the workshop in Anaka, he told the teachers: “The first language children communicate in is play; that’s their first language. The use of play materials is important- as young children understand the language of play the best. Play activities play prepare children to take on advanced education. We want children to like good school, and have a positive educational experience- and the materials you have made which contribute towards that goal”.
We are pleased to report that the teachers have enjoyed their two-day workshop, and have made some incredibly creative Acholi learning and playing materials which will help prepare pupils for primary school! However, many teachers still struggle to convince parents of the value of teaching in Acholi and encouraging free play as a crucial aspect of a child’s early development. As such, we will continue working with the local community to demonstrate the importance of nurturing their children’s mother-tongue, before progressing to English at the right time.
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This week, we are delighted to welcome our new Country Director for our Ugandan operations, Peter Etabu!
Peter has joined us from Right To Play Uganda where he was the Country Manager since 2007. Peter has more than 20 years experience with working NGOs, including ActionAid International and Concern Worldwide. In his role at African Revival, Peter is responsible for further developing our Uganda programme, leading the implementation of current and future activities, whilst developing and managing relationships with international and national stakeholders, working towards the overall provision of quality education in northern Uganda. Peter is also responsible for managing and monitoring programme delivery against objectives, programme expenditure against budgets, seeking and identifying funding opportunities (including proposal writing) and reporting to donors.
Peter is happy to return to work in the north, and to be part the AR team committed to ensuring access to quality education. He spends his free time with his children, whom he feels need more attention if they are to develop into their full potential.
Welcome to our Gulu office, and to the African Revival family!
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Today, we are very pleased to welcome Henry Kerali – our new Fundraising & Communications Volunteer – to the UK office, and to the African Revival family!
Over the last few years, he has been studying and working in the US. He has a background in journalism, having previously worked for The Washington Post. As a journalist, Henry has a keen interest in foreign affairs and all news relating to sub-Saharan Africa. He is especially drawn by African Revival’s work in Uganda, being a native Ugandan himself! In the office, Henry helps put into effect AR’s communications strategy. When he’s not at work, Henry enjoys reading, playing tennis, watching football, and hanging out with friends.Posted in News | Leave a comment
Last year, we built three classrooms at Siamwaavwa Community School, located in the rural southern region of Kalomo District of Zambia. However, the school is still lacking some basic infrastructure, so in June, we were thrilled to start work on building latrines with funding from Just a Drop. And the good news keeps on coming, as we have now secured funding to build a teachers’ house. Upon the completion of the house, the Zambian government has agreed to send two trained government teachers to support the currently overworked community teachers.
Thank you for all your generous donations which made these works possible! We are delighted to be able to support this committed school and community in providing quality education to the district’s children.
With your help, we also hope to provide the school with quality learning materials to optimize the children’s learning.
As we near the school summer holidays, African Revival is on the look-out for schools up and down the country that would like to partner with schools in Uganda or Zambia and take on fun fundraising activities in the local community.
Having linked UK schools with African schools for almost 10 years, we are excited to announce the re-launch of our Schools Linking Programme in September 2015, ready for the start of the academic year.
Activities will include exchanging letters, access to a variety of assembly and lesson plans, as well as support with all manner of fundraising events, from cake sales and non-uniform days to sponsored runs and concerts! Watch this space for downloadable lesson plans, fundraising activities, sponsorship materials and much more!
Long Ditton St. Mary’s, a Junior School near Surbiton, has been partnered with their school, Kaladima P7 in northern Uganda, through African Revival since 2006. Joan Mayhew, Music Specialist at St. Mary’s has this to say about their link:
“The link with Kaladima P7 school in Uganda has had an enormous impact on our school. It is so important for our children to understand how people live in different parts of the world. They have responded fantastically to various fund-raising initiatives for the school – by holding cake sales; garage sales; doing sponsored events and holding competitions. These initiatives have helped to provide a laptop and solar panel for the school, scholastic equipment – and helped start up a ‘poultry project’ in Kaladima – which we hope will be self sustaining and provide more funds for the school.”
We are also thrilled to announce that the Young Chamber student group at Invicta Grammar School in Kent had adopted African Revival as their Charity of the Year 2015-2016! The group will hold exciting fundraising events for us throughout the year, including a Burns Night supper as well as race and bingo nights – you can read more about this great new partnership here.
Interested in getting your school involved with linking and/or fundraising? Call us on 020 8939 3190 or direct your message to Chelsea, our Schools Volunteer Coordinator, at email@example.comPosted in News | Leave a comment
We are so excited to see our Jumpstart! programme turn 6 months old this month! The project was made possible with UK Aid match funding from the Department of International Development. The goal of Jumpstart! is to ensure that nursery pupils receive the best possible start in life so that they develop into well-rounded individuals and are well-prepared to excel in their subsequent studies. Since February 2015, our education team has been working endlessly to transform ten nurseries in the Nwoya district of northern Uganda.
So what has been happening in the last few months?
As some of you may know, we started off with a strong focus on teacher training and skill development. Although a number of our caregivers had received formal teacher training, they struggled with implementing their knowledge and the government learning schemes according to the required standards. This is why our 36 caregivers hav
e been undergoing several refresher courses and workshops on Early Child Development, supporting them in every aspect of their daily teaching life, from scheming and planning lessons to understanding the children better. We are also happy to enable 10 of our caregivers without formal teacher training to attend formal teacher training in order to obtain the official Certificate for ECD.
This support has been essential, as Richard, our Education Programme Coordinator, pointed out: “if we see any differences now, it’s because of our focus on teacher training right from the start.” Gradually, we are witnessing changes in the way teachers are now scheming and preparing the classes, and classrooms themselves are being increasingly transformed into colourful learning environments. This also shows how teacher training and skill development goes hand in hand with our ongoing emphasis on ensuring child-friendly learning spaces and materials. In order to make this transformation sustainable, we have held specific workshops, where teachers have learnt how to create
teaching materials which are free or cheap to produce, which will stimulate their pupils’ learning, and engage their young students. The teachers have learnt how to utilize local materials for learning resources; collecting brightly coloured bottle lids to use as counters is cheap, but extremely effective. We equipped the teachers with assorted materials (including coloured card, and felt tip pens) so that now, Jumpstart! nursery classrooms are full of bright posters, and flashcards which will help students with tasks like learning the alphabet, and numbers.
However, for sustainable change, we also need the whole community to get involved; we need the support and engagement of parents in their children’s education and the nurseries themselves. This is why our education team has also been busy holding sensitization meetings throughout the Nwoya district, with an overall attendance of 1036 parents! These sensitization meetings represented one of the first steps of Jumpstart!: establishing a partnership with parents and care-givers, as we work collaboratively to give children the best possible start in life. During these meetings, we worked alongside parents and care-givers to ensure that children receive the appropriate support at home, and to increase the parents’ involvement in the nurseries, whether it be by providing food or by cleaning the school environment. In addition, as many parents struggle to pay school fees on time, we have also supported the communities in establishing a Village Saving & Loan Association, where struggling parents may take up loans. Furthermore, we have initiated termly parents open days, where teachers and parents can connect, and discuss their children’s progress, to deepen their involvement in their children’s learning. At the end of Term 1, all ECD centres held successful parent open days; in total, 219 parents attended the open days. It was a great opportunity for parents to see what their children have been learning and admire their achievements. These days have proved to be a powerful way of demonstrating the value of nursery education.
Moreover, starting in June, teachers, parents and children are gathering at each ECD centre for a tree-planting ceremony. As Nwoya District is quite strongly affected by the issue of climate change, it was felt that this would be an appropriate way to address the issue. Additionally, it was a perfect occasion to reinforce community engagement, and these trees will surely grow into symbols of change for the communities.
We are thrilled that the transformation in teacher performance and community involvement that we are witnessing in these ECD centres has also been recognised by the District Inspector of Schools. In June, African Revival received a Certificate of Recognition for its “distinguished service to the Children of Nwoya District” from the Nwoya District Local
Government. We were overjoyed to receive such kind feedback and see it as giving us ever more reason to continue our work and reinforce our efforts. This is why we already have been busy planning the next few months.
So what is going to happen in the next few months?
In regards to our emphasis on improving learning environment and materials, we are eager to provide the ECD centres with the necessary teaching and learning materials which allow them to offer their children a solid foundation upon which they can build their lives to become well-rounded and successful individuals. In this respect, it is of utmost importance that we are culturally sensitive and preserve local culture. This is why we will be working on the production of teaching and learning material in the local language which reflects local culture. At the core of this will be the creation of storybooks containing local folk stories. We can’t wait to see the first few examples of this!
Furthermore, our teachers will need additional attention and support in their work as they will be officially tested by the government for the very first time over the next few weeks and months. We are thrilled to see the enthusiasm and commitment of our teachers in preparing for these evaluations and we will do our best to help them in every possible way. At the same time, this will be a good opportunity to receive some feedback on the performance of our teachers and their training. We are looking forward to establishing teacher profiles, from a combination of these evaluation results and personal background information of each teacher, which will enable us to improve and adjust our support according to the teachers’ needs.
We are also planning on reinforcing community involvement by providing training o developing school development plans and school missions. We aim at generating a sustainable transformation through and by the communities we work with. This is why it is so important for us that first of all, teachers, parents and children create their school together, and secondly, that they set school goals, which they can achieve, drawing on the locally available resources and materials.
But now, it’s time to celebrate!
We are impressed by the commitment and engagement of all the communities involved, and thrilled to see how the transformation has been gradually taking place within the last 6 months. We hope you are as happy as we are to celebrate this 6 month anniversary with us, because we have prepared quite a few exciting things for you: 6 photos to give you a visual idea about the Jumpstart! Programme; 6 quotes from teachers, parents or children and 6 reflections of our staff for a more personal insight into the project; and we also want to introduce some of our schools and teachers to you, which is why we will upload 6 school and 6 teacher profiles.
Happy 6 Month Jumpstart! Anniversay everyone!
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