Elius, the Uphill Junior School director, has a dream – to transform society through the provision of quality education for everyone who wants to learn.
To produce capable and hardworking children with skills to become productive Ugandans.
Aims of Uphill Junior School
- To provide quality education for all children in rural communities who have don’t have access to material or financial support
- To strengthen the education sector of Uganda by providing an all round pre-primary and primary education that encompasses mental, psychological, physical and emotional development along with moral values
- To promote the education of girls, as well as advocating gender equality for the rural children of Uganda
- To provide free education and material support to children with special needs, children with disability and children born with, or affected by HIV/AIDS
Universal Primary Education (UPE) aims to make the first 7 years of school free for everyone and was introduced in Uganda in 1997 – one of the first African countries to take this step. However, poor government funding has led to teacher absenteeism in many schools and payments are still required for uniforms, books, school meals and examination fees before children are allowed to attend. Studies of UPE have shown that although school enrolment and attendance has increased since it was introduced, the quality of education has declined overall.
When money is tight, many Ugandan families prioritise the education of sons over daughters and many girls in poorer areas of the country become child brides.
Educating girls, but never forgetting the boys
“Every girl, no matter where she lives, no matter what her circumstance, has a right to learn.” Malala Yousafzai (2016), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Whilst a good quality education has great benefits for all children, investing in girls’ education from a young age can lead to a positive cycle of education and empowerment from mother to daughter, generation after generation.
Studies have shown that:
- A woman who has never been to school will have 4-5 more children that a woman who has successfully completed both primary and secondary education
- Woman who have been to school are less likely to marry as children or to have HIV or malaria, and in rural areas tend to farm more productive plots of land resulting in better nourished families
- The children of educated mothers are more likely to receive childhood immunisations and to attend school more regularly and study for longer
- Better educated women are more empowered, with more say over their lives. They are better able to seek and negotiate life saving health care for themselves and for their young children.
A Quality Education
Just attending school is not enough – having access to good quality learning experiences is the key contributor to future success in life. To help their pupils fulfil their educational potential, schools need to provide:
- Well trained and motivated teachers
- Focus from an early age on the basics of reading, writing and mathematics skills
- Teaching methods that work at all levels and for all learners
- A high quality and accessible curriculum, with enough resources for all learners
The first two elements are already in place at Uphill Junior School. The Uphill Trust has prioritised financial support for teachers from the very beginning and children attending the Uphill Kindergarten get an early introduction to key educational basics, in an age appropriate way.
The school teaches the Ugandan National Curriculum, and uses extra curricular activities to extend the children’s skills and experiences. However, like many schools in Uganda, there are not enough educational resources and no access to the internet. Much of the teaching uses the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ methods and copying from the chalkboard, which doesn’t suit all learners.
These development items are work in progress for both school and trust. Watch this space!