Written by Coralee Kisakye: founding principal.
The news we have all been praying and hoping for, schools will be reopening in January 2022. What this will look like is still unknown as even the experts agree there will be many challenges. For us though we have faith that God will continue to guide us as we plan for the children’s return.
The major worry for education experts in Uganda, is the unprecedented number of over seven million learners who will be joining Primary one, this number will put pressure on facilities and learning needs. The demand for more classroom space, textbooks and teachers, at pre-primary, primary and secondary education levels will be at its highest.
Prolonged school lockdown has led to 51% of learners across the entire education system stopping learning, 60% of these being from the primary years.
Approximately 30% of learners are projected not to return to school forever due to teenage pregnancies, early marriages and child labour.
In addition, there is an irreversible consequence of the lockdown, in that each learner has already lost two years. This implies that each learner has been in the same grade for two years since 2020, consequently this means learners, particularly in the nursery years of baby, middle and top class (pre-school, kindergarten and Reception), having outgrown their grades, which makes them prone to dropping out.
So how are we in Lugongwe going to tackle this problem?
Moses will be heading back to Uganda at the end of November, and I will follow him to be there in early January when the schools are set to reopen.
Moses will be spending his time connecting with the families to encourage them to return their children to school, regardless of their current situation. This will not be an easy task as many students will have given up their dreams of an education for simple jobs that might bring in a few cents per day or may now be parents themselves and see no need to further their education.
Older learners will be expected to go into primary classes without any of the nursery years foundations, this is just setting them up for failure. My job will be ensuring those children are not left behind, and to reduce the risk of them dropping out and continue the cycle of illiteracy and poverty. The plan will be to run a foundations class for children too old to be in the nursery section. This will be 5 months of intensive learning in an environment suited to their physical age not just their academic level.
The Ugandan Government have strict conditions related to the reopening of schools around ensuring teachers and students are kept safe from COVID. It is a condition of their return to work that all teachers must be fully vaccinated, thankfully our current teachers all are.
Some of these conditions include the space between beds in dormitories and desks in classrooms. This may mean we will need to build additional dormitories, purchase more beds and desks for the classrooms.
We have plans to create a nursery section within the current design of the classrooms. The classrooms will be redesigned, repainted, furnished and stocked with resources in line with the new National Curriculum.
Moses will be overseeing the construction of a main hall large enough for the entire school to meet in for assemblies and prayers.
During the past month our teachers have been working hard in the gardens, planting food crops and returfing the play spaces so the children will have beautiful grass to play on and to sit and read.
Parkside Primary School
12 Robsart St, Parkside
12th October 2021 7:00pm start
RSVP by 8th October to email@example.com
Moses and I will be Joining Paul & Laureen Newsham at 8:20pm on Sunday October 17th, to talk about the work in Lugongwe. This is a talk back show so if you would like to ring and join in the program the number is 8444 5433.
This year we are blessed to be hosted by Gateway Baptist Church,
6 Jervois Street Albert Park.
This will be our first major fundraiser in the past 2 years.
Please note: due to COVID restrictions: sharing of food is only allowed between household members.
Proceeds of the night will go towards ensuring the classrooms, dormitories and grounds are ready for the children’s return in January.
On the top is one of our current nursery classrooms, and below how we would like to have them look by the time the children return.
All the results from the National Exams are out and the good news is that all our children passed. When we reflect on the little classroom time the Primary 7 and Senior 4 students had in 2020, it is a reflection on how serious these students are about their education and the dedication of our teachers. A graduation party will be held in January to celebrate their achievements.
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight. October 2021.
Written by Coralee Kisakye: Founding Principal.
COVID-19: Uganda goes into total lockdown as infections rise.
That was the headline of every newspaper in Uganda on June 18th. The Delta variant has made its way into Uganda and the President ordered a 42-day lockdown. Our children were quickly sent home to their families and our teachers locked down within the school grounds. Uganda is experiencing its first real taste of the virus with over 86,000 cases recorded and a little over 2,000 deaths, of course, that is just the “recorded’ statistics. We thank God that our teachers have been vaccinated.
With three weeks left of the official lockdown and daily cases falling we are praying life will return to normal and our children will be able to return to school. All through this pandemic we have been able to continue to pay our teachers and provide them with food and medical services, thanks to your continued support.
April was the 11th anniversary of the opening of our school in Lugongwe.
When I first saw the village of Lugongwe I had no idea why God had brought me there and why he allowed it to impact me so deeply. It was during a short trip back to Uganda in January 2010, that he showed me his plan, for the village of Lugongwe and for me.
Sometimes you must step out in faith. Sometimes God tells you to do something and you don’t know how you are going to manage it, but you must trust in the Lord. He will provide what is needed. By faith, you do what is right not what is easy. Nothing about the project has been easy, we have been challenged by those who would see God’s plan fail, but throughout we have believed and trusted in God. We trusted him for protection against witchcraft and illness, and for provision of finance and each time he has made a way.
I have lost count of how many children have been enrolled in our school over the years, it would be well in excess of 1500. Not only have they received an education, but they have seen how God can work in their lives when they accept him. We have seen children come up through the primary school and enter secondary school, we have enabled young women to learn a trade and have a way to support themselves without relying on early marriages. We have also seen some fall by the wayside as they experienced lockdowns and fell into the hands of those that do not wish them well. Throughout all this, the one constant has been the voice of our Lord reminding us to stay the path and to continue to support the children in their walk to know God and see his love for them.
Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Changes to our Board:
We would like to thank Richard Bunting for his support as Chairperson on our Australian board, and we wish him all God’s love as he continues to build God’s kingdom through his other ventures.
Paul Davies has stepped into the role of acting Chairperson. Paul has been a member of our team for over 5 years and is already bringing new ideas and people to our small group.
Diary Date: October 23rd
Venue: Gateway Baptist Church: 6 Jervois Street Albert Park
More information to come.
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight.
School is well and truly in full swing in Lugongwe. The Primary 6 and Senior 3 students have completed their end of term exams and are on holidays. The other students, who have not been back as long, are still studying.
Many of the children have stayed at school instead of returning home for the two-week break as transport is expensive and parents are wanting them to take advantage of being back in the learning environment.
To ensure the students have something interesting to keep them busy, they have been taking part in our first school holiday program.
The children were divided into three houses: Jerimiah, Elijah and Moses. Activities included: Sports, debating, drama performances and of course a Soccer tournament.
The primary students’ debating topic was around extended family versus the nuclear family, and the Senior students were debating colonialism. We have been lucky to have some video footage sent through which has been posted on our Facebook page if you would like to see the students in action.
On the second day, the students participated in a performance competition. There were three major categories: cultural dress and tribal traditions, song and dance and dramatic performances. They made their costumes, wrote scripts, songs and produced music.
The third day was a games day, and then the last day was the Soccer tournament.
The entire school walked the 2kms to the community field to cheer on the teams. This also brought out members of the community to watch. To finish up the week, a special meal was served, including meat, rice and a bottle of soda.
The program brought the children and teachers together for a much-needed time of bonding, friendship and communion.
There have been reports that cases are increasing in Uganda, but it is difficult to really know. The newspapers have reported schools will not be closed again. Our teachers have been vaccinated, and students are encouraged to continue to wear masks in the classroom.
Diary Date: October 23rd
Venue: Gateway Baptist Church: 6 Jervois Street Albert Park
More information to come.
There are many ways to help God’s work in Lugongwe, sponsoring a student, sewing clothes, making beanies or attending the Quiz night.
Can’t sew, knit or crochet? Trivia, not your thing? Are you wanting to do more? We have 2 spaces on our Australian board. If you feel God is calling you to help build his Kingdom and you have some time to spare, we are a small group of like-hearted people with a need for some enthusiastic Christian people to share the load.
May 2021. Written by Coralee Kisakye
The news is good, the children are coming back to school. Every week more and more children are walking through our school gates and into the classroom.
Currently, year 5 and year 6 students, senior 2 and senior 3 have returned. Over 80 of these students are boarding with us, and 56-day scholars. The class sizes are smaller than usual which can only benefit the students as it has now been one year since the schools were closed.
Our senior 4 students have finished their exams and now wait for their results. The Ugandan school system has four years of lower secondary and two years of senior secondary. Our school offers the first four years of secondary school; however, we are praying that next year we will be able to offer senior secondary as well.
Our primary seven students are preparing for their national exams, they will travel daily to the exam centre with one of our teachers escorting them.
The students will break off in May for a short holiday. We are expecting that all grades, excluding the nursery section, will be back in class by the end of June. The Government is anticipating it will take three years until the school year will be able to return to the pre-Covid 19 pattern of a three-term year.
Some more exciting news is that our school garden is now producing Matoke, enough for the children to eat each day with their posha and beans.
Matoke is a variety of banana indigenous to southwest Uganda. It comes from the family of bananas known as the East African Highland bananas. Matoke is used mainly for cooking when they are green and unripe. Cooked and mashed matoke is the national dish of Uganda. It is high in protein and carbohydrates and often saved for special occasions.
It has been a while since we have been able to send out photographs to our sponsors. You will all be aware that the children have not been at school for the past year, however, your sponsorship support has enabled us to continue paying our teachers and maintaining the school property.
Now the children are starting to return we will be able to get those much-awaited pictures. A photographer will travel out to Lugongwe this week to photograph all the students, he will then email them back to us for printing, then they will be posted out to you. Not all the children have returned so if your previous child does not return, we will try to discover why and inform you. I have been told that we have many new students enrol, so if your previous student is not going to return, we will give you a new child to pray for and support.
In addition to paying the teachers, we have sent financial support for the purchase of maize meal and beans for the children’s meals, and medical supplies. Their parents are expected to pay a nominal fee to support their children’s education, but the long-term lockdown has impacted heavily on their ability to earn even the smallest income.
Until Moses and I can return to Uganda we are heavily reliant on our headmaster and school manager to run the school and give us information about what is happening on the ground. However, Moses is on the phone with them every day supporting their decisions.
Written by Coralee Kisakye
After months of waiting, we have finally received the news we have been praying for. The schools have been given permission to reopen.
Currently, the Primary 7 and Senior 4 students are the only ones who have been given permission to study, but on the 1st of March, the Primary 6 and Senior 3 students can return, followed by the rest of the students, with a staggered start through April. Sadly, there is no plan for children in the Nursery section, Baby class to Top class, to return until Uganda is free from COVID-19.
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The 2020 academic year for all educational institutions will end in July.
This was announced on Thursday evening by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during his address on COVID-19 pandemic and school reopening.
“Overall, the academic year 2020 will end in July 2021. That way we can say this academic year should have ended in December 2020, but because of COVID, it will end in July 2021. So that the learners after six months more, they
complete their academic year,” Museveni said.
The end of the academic year means that learners at different levels will now be moving to the next levels or classes on the ladder of education.
In Uganda, the academic year runs from late January to early December with three terms covering 260 days of curricula and co-curricular activities, assessment, and national examinations. However, in 2020, the academic year was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced the government to close all educational institutions.
At the time of the closure, the idea was that learners could report back to school after 32 days. But, eleven months down the road, only a few learners in candidate classes and higher education finalists have been able to resume teaching and learning activities.
According to the President, learners in Primary 6, Senior 3, and Senior 5 will resume classes on March 1, 2021 and will study in a staggered system where different groups of learners will be reporting to school on different days as decided by the ministry or school authorities.
📌 BACK TO SCHOOL PLAN
✳️ Already at school Primary 7, Senior 4 & Senior 6
✳️ March 1 – Primary 6, Senior 3 & Senior 5 resume studies
✳️ April – Senior 1, Senior 2, Primary 1, Primary 2, Primary 3, Primary 4, Primary 5 staggered back
✳️ July – School year 2020 ends
📌 Ugandan National Examination Board schedule
✳️ Primary Leaving Exams March 30th & 31
✳️ UCE (ordinary level) exams March 1 to April 7
2020 held so much promise for our primary 7 and senior 4 students. They were entering their final years of schooling and making plans for their futures. I do not have to tell you what happened next.
Late in the year, the students were given hope when called back to continue their education. Not everyone has made it back to school. The lure of making a small income drew some of the boys into the gold mines. For the girls, not the future we were hoping for them as their parents arranged marriages, or they fell pregnant as many young women did during the lockdowns.
However, for some of our students, the opened classrooms were a call they had been waiting for, their opportunity to make a better future for themselves. Currently, in our school, 12 Primary 7 students and 11 senior 4 students are making the most of the small class sizes and their teachers’ attention to study in preparation for their final exams.
I want to take this opportunity to say once again thank you to our dedicated sponsors who stayed true to their promise to help the children of Lugongwe. Throughout the year all our teachers have remained employed, and our students when able have had a class to return to. Many of the children have returned totally empty-handed, without even a pencil to write their notes. Your sponsorship money has ensured they have all the requirements they need, a meal, a bed, medical services and teachers to guide and support them.
To ensure we can continue to support the children it was decided at the AGM to increase the sponsorship, this has been the first increase in sponsorship fees for many years.
The new sponsorship rates will be effective from 1st January 2021.
Primary student $100 per year.
Senior student $200 per year.