The new term of the new school year has started at Royal Pride Academy, as it has across Uganda. And, as across Uganda, it has taken a little time to get going, as parents try to scrape together the money for school fees. The expression Universal Primary Education has a rather hollow ring to it. As those of you already acquainted with Royal Pride know, the government schools in Kampala charge ‘top-up’ fees, and are bursting at the seams as they only represent 18% of Kampala’s school provision. Children in Mutungo can’t get in and/or can’t afford the fees.
|Back at Royal Pride, wearing her smart new uniform.|
Well, thanks to people in HMI, friends and family, two young pupils can now attend Royal Pride, for you have paid one term’s school fees for them both. One pupil in P2 was found abandoned by the side of a road by an old lady, who has been doing the best for him in the way that desperately poor people care for those even poorer, but she cannot afford school fees. The school has provided him with a second-, third- or fourth-hand uniform and, as with all the poorer pupils, provides his jotters, toilet paper and pencils out of what they have managed to put together. And, of course, his fees contribute to teachers’ salaries, when they get them, and other resources such as the yearly examination papers which all Ugandan children sit, chalk and a few minimal resources. The second pupil, who is in P5, is from a single parent family, and receives similar support from the school.
|One of the pupils you are supporting is in this group.|
|And one is in this group.|
Work has also started on the improvements about which I let you know earlier on. The playground has been covered with twenty four loads of ‘murram’, a natural material dug out of the ground which is halfway between earth and gravel. Most Ugandan roads are made of it. This layer, together with improved drainage, will prevent the pools of stagnant water gathering in the rainy season, which used turn the playground into mud and which seeped into the ramshackle wooden building in which the older pupils are taught.
|The new playground is good enough to skip on...|
|...and clamber over|
We have purchased guttering for the newer brick building, which was attached at the weekend. Once the dry season is over, probably in March, the guttering will prevent water running off the roof during Uganda’s frequent and heavy rain and filling up the playground. Instead, the rain will be led off into a large water butt. I handed over the last of the money today for Godfrey, the headteacher, to buy this tank and we hope to have it in place by the end of the week. The water can be used for children to wash their hands after using the latrine, as the school does not have a water supply. Harvesting rainwater in this way is standard practice in Ugandan schools. Unfortunately I won’t have a picture of the guttering and water butt for some time as Stuart and I are being cautious about travelling too far within Kampala just now because of the election, and will be well and truly tied to home once we reach the end of this week.
|Harvesting rainwater at a rural school we visited.|
Other developments at Royal Pride include the school’s gradual progress towards NGO status. Stuart and I have been meeting the lawyer along with the headteacher, getting the necessary signatures from people in the local council. We have now reached the stage of registering with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This may take some time.
It will take time, also to complete the building improvements. If you could help us build another pit latrine and, perhaps, make a start on the concrete base for the second building it would be wonderful! As before, contributions to Jane or David, or direct to me (email first so I can let you have the necessary details).
|A bag of cement will fix this hole in the old building for now.|
So, lots of environmental improvements already achieved. In addition, we have been able to augment the learning resources with your help, focusing to begin with at the early stages with materials for literacy and number work, and donated picture and story books for youngsters to enjoy. Because there are so few resources in Ugandan schools, those that exist tend to be limited to text books, so children have few opportunities for exploring books and for active learning and enjoyment.
Learning for enjoyment in Mutungo…….whatever next?!
|Proudly displaying her latest picture.|