Another reason why our blog tends to reflect the worst of education is that the nature of our placements makes us acutely aware of deep-seated problems at national level. These issues can seem overwhelming and so intractable as to appear virtually insoluble.
However, there is another side to education in Uganda. Stuart has visited a few of the elite international schools attended by rich Ugandans and been impressed by the education which some of them provide. We have also accompanied our colleagues on inspections of some good-quality government-aided primary and secondary schools, although such schools have been very much in the minority.
In another context, however, away from our official work we have been able to make personal visits to a small number of private schools which have impressed us with the service they provide to their local communities. We must stress that many private schools are not like this: they are simply money-making ventures which take hard-earned cash from gullible and needy families who want to do the best by their children but cannot afford anything better. However, there are good people working in education, who often bridge the gaps in the system and provide ordinary Ugandan children with a good quality education at a reasonable cost. Every so often we will write about schools like these so that you can see another side to Ugandan education. What links them all is the clear vision they have of the quality of education they aim to provide, and strong leaders and committed staff who strive to make that vision a reality.
|A young Obama|
|Edward in the headteacher's study|
|A welcoming smile from Sylvia, the headteacher|
The teachers have made great efforts to make their classrooms attractive and stimulating. Almost all the resources and display are made by teachers themselves.
|School library on the right and well-organised files on the left|
Yet this is not some grand city-centre private school. It is a rural primary which draws on the families living in its locality. Fees are modest, Shs 65,000-100,000 per term depending on age and stage (£20-30), which includes porridge for the nursery children who finish at lunchtime and posho and beans for the primary classes. The school regards feeding children as very important, and is currently building an insulated fuel-efficient stove to cut down costs.
|Porridge for the nursery, cooked over the existing wood stove|
|Dining area in the shade|
|The new well.|
|A safe water supply|
|Exercise books ready for parents' inspection on Graduation Day in December|
|Nursery class in groups|
|We are Top Class|
|We are Middle Class|
|Baby class coming out for playtime, not yet sure about greetings|
Relationships among staff and children are warm and friendly. One advantage of a private school is that owners and headteacher can select staff themselves, rather than having them sent out by central or local government. This means that they can choose teachers who are committed to the values and ethos of the school.
|Ready for Graduation Day|
|Welcoming the visitors|
In fact, an area behind the school itself is a 'forest school': a clearing where classes do their sports and physical education activities.
|PE in the open air|
|Legs in the air, everyone!|
|Traditional dances from the older children|
|Boys and girls have their own roles|
|Teachers at the drums|
|Action songs from the nursery|
|Marching proudly through the village|
|Top Class in their Graduation gear|
|Envious watchers wish they were at school too|
Then it's time to entertain the parents.
|No lack of confidence here|
So much so that the mums joined in!
|Real parent participation|
A school with happy children...
...and proud and happy staff.
|Sylvia with Josephine, the deputy headteacher|