Tag Archives: Northern Uganda
May 5, 2016
In rural Nwoya district, Northern Uganda, many children are not in school. Some have dropped out – others have never been to school at all. The reasons for dropping out are myriad. Some families do not have enough money to pay the fees for multiple children at school, as well as school uniform and scholastic materials. Other children are required to stay at home to care for sick relatives or help with household chores.
Molly (right) is one young girl who, at 13 years old, had never been to school until she enrolled in Speed School. Her uncle, who she lives with, did not allow her to go to school; instead she stayed at home to do most of the cooking and cleaning. And hers is not an isolated case. Sarah, also 13, had to drop out of school when her father spent all the money meant for school fees on the bride price for Sarah’s step mother. Paying dowry is still a tradition in northern Uganda and often impoverishes families. After the money had been used on his new bride, Sarah’s father asked her and her 4 siblings to stay at home until he found the money for their education. 3 are now enrolled in Speed School, which is a free initiative.
The reasons why children have dropped out of school are complex and difficult to address. But now a new initiative called Speed School, implemented by African Revival in partnership with Geneva Global, is aiming to get these drop outs back into school. The Speed School programme was previously implemented by Geneva Global in Ethiopia. The project was such a success that it was brought to Uganda and adapted to the national education system. African Revival is now managing 30 Speed School classes, each with 25 pupils. Over one year, we aim to educate and reintroduce 750 pupils into mainstream education and address the root causes of primary school drop outs and absenteeism.
Speed School is an accelerated learning programme which will teach children the first 3 years of the primary curriculum, after which they will re-join the formal education system in Grade 4. Children are taught using effective participatory and child-centred learning methods which the Speed School teachers (called facilitators) learned during an intensive training session at the start of the project. The facilitators are also taught different ways to lesson plan, make learning aids, and encouraged to place an emphasis on critical thinking skills in class. Reduced class sizes of 25 pupils (the average teacher-pupil ratio in government schools is 1:80) also makes classes easier to manage and improves behaviour and pupil motivation. Moreover, the facilitators are from the local community, so as well as teaching the condensed curriculum, they can also monitor their pupils to ensure that they stay in Speed School and do not drop out again.
As well as Speed School classes, Geneva Global have also established self-help groups for the parents of the enrolled pupils. In these groups parents – primarily mothers – will be trained in Income Generating Activities to economically empower them so they are able to meet the financial demands of educating their children. These activities may include Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), agriculture or business activities.
By ensuring the parents are empowered economically, the Speed School programme aims to address one of the main reasons why children dropped out of school in the first place: lack of money for school fees. Even if parents want their children to gain an education, school is not always a priority. Richard, a bright-eyed 13 year-old, dropped out of school in 2012 because both of his parents had died. He now lives with his grandmother, and has a hand-to-mouth existence: his grandmother is frail and can only generate enough money to feed Richard. No money is left for school fees. But now Speed School is helping Richard to study again and get an education, so one day he can achieve his dream of becoming a pilot: “I want to be a pilot so I can move in different places, and learning ways of living and different cultures”. Motivated and focus, we are sure Richard, along with the other children in Speed School, will excel this year in this supportive programme and go on to succeed in the future.
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Tagged Acholi, African Revival, Changemaker, Education, Gulu, Headteacher, inspiration, Inspiring Head Teacher, International Development, Lord's Resistance Army, Northern Uganda, Nursery School, School Development, Teacher training |
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March 21, 2016
Fred is the Head Teacher at Juba Road Primary School in Northern Uganda
I studied in this very primary school when I was a child. My father was on the management committee. They were the very people who built this school in 1947. When I was growing up, I really admired teachers. I admired their commitment, the way they presented themselves, and the way they brought up the young children.
When I graduated primary school, I went to study in a seminary. I wanted to become a priest. In the seminary we used to teach children and read with them, I always loved children and wanted to see them develop. When we entered the seminary we were many, almost 100. But only 5 became priests.
The bible says, “Many are called but few are chosen”. We were called to become seminarians but not chosen to be priests. But that did not stop us. For me, the integrity of teachers in those days, their professionalism, their conduct, and the respect the community gave to teachers, motivated me to become a teacher.
During the insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army, everything at this school was completely destroyed, the classrooms, the teachers’ houses, even the learning materials. When I was posted back here in 2012, there was almost total hopelessness in the community. You know when there is loss and when there is war, people lose hope in life. We had to talk to the parents to rebuild hope. Then we could start rebuilding the school.
We came up with a development plan for the school. Our main goal was to improve performance by providing quality education. Quality education is the role of all the community, the parents, teachers, pupils, the local district, and the Government. So we had to involve all the stakeholders to see that we improved the school. We had to improve the economic welfare of the community, because there was almost total poverty in the community. Parents could not support their children or even provide basic material like pens or school uniform.
I was happy because African Revival helped us set up beekeeping and farming. Behind the wood lot is a fruit garden. It’s a big plot of fruit trees and the mangoes have started maturing already. During the rainy season we grow vegetables: maize, tomatoes, onions, and aubergines. Each class has a plot they manage and they sell the produce to raise money for their class. We call the pupils ‘Farmers of the Future’.
We gave each child two mango seedlings to take home. They can plant them in their village and show their parents what they’ve learnt at school. When the trees mature in a year, they can make 100,000 Shillings (£22) from the fruit. This is integrating the school with the community. We do things together as one unit – the school and the community.
We also teach beekeeping and goat keeping so when these children leave school they can be self-sustainable. Not every child can go to university. But if children finish primary school with these skills, they can improve the livelihoods of their families.
You must love your profession
I’ve taught for 25 years now. I love my profession. What can motivate you to work hard and perform well if you don’t love your profession? When you have your profession within you, you know what you’re supposed to do.
As a Head Teacher you must be self-motivated. You must love your country. You must love your nation. You must love your people. Teaching is love for humanity. If you don’t have love for humanity, you won’t succeed. These children are the most innocent people. When you care for them, you build a generation that will be self-sustaining, a generation that will be caring, a generation that will be peace-lovers. And we will be free from violence.
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Tagged Education, Head Teacher, Inspiring Head Teacher, Northern Uganda |
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March 8, 2016
This International Women’s Day, we hear from inspirational Head Teacher Lily-Rose on what she is doing for Girls Education in Northern Uganda
“Right from when I was in primary school, I admired teachers. They were well-respected people with good families. I had one teacher called Rosabella. She was organised and hard working, I said to myself, ‘The day I become a teacher I will be like Rosabella’.
This is my fifth year at Anaka Primary School, but I’ve been a Head Teacher for 15 years. Many people here know me and that makes me proud to be a Head Teacher. What I enjoy most about my job is having children who are disciplined, parents who love their school, and teachers who work together. This makes me very happy.
As an important lady in the community, I try to share my own experiences with our girls. I was once a young girl too with the same challenges. I have female teachers who are role models and we have monthly meetings with the girls to discuss any issues. On top of that, we have built girls’ changing and washrooms and we have trained the parents on how to make sanitary pads.
At least once a term I invite female parents to the school. Not all of them know how to take care of their girls. Some of them don’t provide basic items like soap or sanitary pads. We help the parents understand their responsibilities. We tell them to provide for their girls so they don’t get interested in the men outside school. By providing for our girls at home, we can keep them in school.
Above all, I’m a mother and a role model to these girls. I hope that because of me, many girls will continue studying and will become something in the future. I hope many successful girls will come out of my life!
My advice would be to send your children to school. When many people are educated, the country will never remain poor. And don’t forget your girls. Some parents treat their boys as if they are special or more important than girls, but I tell them to treat their boys and girls equally. All of them are special people who can succeed in anything.”
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Tagged Education, Girls Education, Head Teacher, Inspiring Head Teacher, International Womens Day, Northern Uganda, Uganda |
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