Rags to Radio

The story of the Uphill Junior School Head Girl 2020-21.

rags to radio-a life transformed by education

Uphill school director Elius first met J in 2014 when she was living with her mother and four younger siblings. She possessed one raggedy dress, had a challenging home life, and had never been to school – but she was clearly a bright child.

He encouraged her to attend Uphill and she started in the final term of Primary 1, going straight to the top of the class – she was especially good at maths. 

It is common for children to start school late in Uganda, and also to leave and return several times during their school career. Both primary and secondary school classes can have children with a wide range of ages.

After a difficult year in 2015, unable to attend school every day due to family circumstances, J still performed well in the end of year exams. The school director asked us if we could find her a sponsor, so that she could attend regularly and achieve her full potential.

As a general principle, The Uphill Trust prefers to fund projects that will benefit the whole school community, but we do have some donors who particularly want to help a child to go to school. We set up the Pupil Support Fund in 2016 to help some of the children in greatest need to attend Uphill Junior School. 

A donor came forward to support J and their regular monthly donations funded her clothing, personal needs and health care costs, and have paid her school fees, books and examination fees.

Although the Ugandan government introduced Universal Primary Education in 2008, schooling is not free, even in government schools. For many Ugandan children living in impoverished circumstances, going to school is an unfulfilled dream.

J thrived at Uphill, growing into a self assured young woman and a conscientious head girl. Her mother died of cancer in 2017 and the school became her home and her family. She has a great sense of humour, loves to learn and threw herself into school life. She has now left Uphill, following the Primary Leaving Examinations, and hopes to continue her education and eventually become a doctor. 

Before leaving school J was invited to give an interview on local radio about her life at Uphill Junior School and her hopes for the future. We think this determined young lady stands a good chance of achieving her aim to “inspire myself before I expire”!

rags to radio-a life transformed by educationJ’s story demonstrates the transformational power of access to education in Uganda.

Without the chance to go to school, she would most likely have spent her childhood working on on a shamba (small family farm) or looking after other people’s children, before being married off as a second or third wife to an older man. Thank goodness Elius was able offer her an alternative path – one that she has enthusiastically and successfully taken.

UPDATE: January 2022

A private sponsor has been found to help J to go onto Secondary School. She enrolled as a boarder at Citizen’s Secondary School in Ibanda in January.

Uphill Junior School pupil now at secondary school in Uganda

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