Working to help improve the lives of poor people in Uganda
There is no free access to secondary school education in Uganda, and with little government help, teachers and parents struggle to provide an education for their children. Since 1992 we have been helping schools in the Kabarole District, in the south west of Uganda, by providing books and equipment as well as helping renovate classrooms and buildings.In 2002 we established a co-ordination committee, made up of a number of well respected individuals from the local community, to help us identify the needs of the schools in the area, and to help monitor the projects that we are supporting. The Reverend Agabus Baguma, a former Headmaster and education secretary for the Diocese of Rwenzori, is the Chairperson of the Co-ordination Committee, and he provides a vital link between the schools and us.
Ten schools in the Kabarole District were selected by the board of RDF and Goretti Bagaya, the District Education Officer, for participation in an annual competition to allocate bursaries for project proposals. After attending an initial meeting in response to an explanatory hand-out, each school voted from a list of projects chosen by staff and students which would benefit the whole school. Beyond the provision of much-needed resources, the main objectives of the competition were to enable students to have a sense of ownership and participation in their chosen project right from the proposal stage, to encourage team-work, and to develop the important skills of managing limited resources in order to achieve a collective profit.Implementation of the competition was made challenging due to the flooding of roads and the need for RDF supervision, but Goretti’s hard work in his own car kept transport costs down. Future competitions will be greatly benefitted by the information gathered, such as the voting statistics showing the general wants and needs across all the schools. Purely community-based schools that do not qualify for government aid might also be considered in subsequent years. A great deal of gratitude is revealed by the letters of staff and students reporting the successful deliverance of projects across the schools. The members of Rusakere SSS voted for a water tank for when the well is empty during the dry season. This solved the school’s most pressing problem, and all 700 students benefitted from the swift implementation of a project for which the school had long been unsuccessfully soliciting parental funding. At Kahinju SSS, the competition money was used for the purchase of sports equipment, enabling compulsory physical education lessons and inter-class competitions that resulted in the selection of a favourable regional squad and even some participation at a national level.
The students and staff of Kaboyo SSS decided to build library shelves to enable the students and wider community to have equal and easy access to the school’s good collection of textbooks, completing the RDF-funded library building. At Rwimi SSS, the 900 students voted to use their bursary to plant trees for the good of the climate, to provide shade and a wind-break, to supply poles for the building of future school fences, and to improve the appearance of the school for morale and for class photographs.
Ruteete is a medium sized rural school located near Kibale Forest, home to one the world's largest concentrations of primates and a popular destination for tourists visiting Uganda. Ruteete Senior Secondary School serves a very poor community and there are no other schools within a ten mile radius.When we visited the school the headmaster appealed to us to help renovate the classrooms which were in various states of decay and disrepair. Some had been abandoned because the concrete floor had cracked and was disintegrating. Others were in such a poor state that the morale of the students and teachers was very low. The headmaster told us that the dropout rate for students was reaching 40%, one of the highest in the area.The Rwenzori Development Foundation agreed to renovate all 8 classrooms in the school. The work was finally completed in early 2004.
Rusekere is a very poor medium sized day school located about 40 mins drive from the town of Fort Portal and is the only secondary school in the sub county. A lot of the children travel long distances to school - up to 8km - and this problem has been compounded by the instability in area caused by a rebel group who until recently were operating from deep within the Rwenzori Mountains.Despite the poverty of the area the children are immensely proud of their school.Ruskere had managed to raise the funds to begin building a science classroom and laboratory. Their priority was to finish this building work so that the rooms could finally be used. The Rwenzori Development Foundation helped the school complete this work.(In the pictures and details, students from the drama group put on a performance for the school).
Kibiito is a large rural mixed day school nestling in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. It was established in 1981 and is the only school in the area. There are around 60 single orphans and 30 double orphans currently studying at the school. However it is estimated that around 50% of all the students have real problems raising money for their school fees. A lot of the students also travel long distances: 6-7 miles a day.In 1994 the school was very badly damaged by the earthquake that struck the whole region and many of the classrooms are dangerously unstable. Their simple library was completely destroyed. After discussions with the Headmaster and teachers, we decided to rebuild their library, making it strong enough to withstand future tremors.