A BIG UPHILL THANK YOU TO ALL OUR DONORS!
2023 has been a more ‘normal’ year for the staff, children and parents of Uphill Junior School, although the cost of living crisis that is biting the world over has hit rural Ugandans hard.
The price of food staples such as maize, beans, matoke (savoury banana) and cooking oil has risen to 3-4 times pre-COVID levels, whilst earnings have remained at a very low level.
Not surprisingly, this has had a knock on effect on fee income for the school. The number of parents who were unable to pay anything for their children’s schooling has risen from an average of 16% pre-pandemic to 33% in 2023. In addition, the percentage of orphans (no fees) has risen from an average of 30% to 49% this year. The ethos of the school has always been to offer education to all, no matter their means, but 2023 has really stretched the school’s finances.
323 pupils enrolled at Uphill at the start of the academic year in February, and another class of Primary 7 pupils left school to sit the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) at the start of November. That’s 7 consecutive years of opportunity to take PLE – a great result.
Some words about this from school director Elius:
“Finally our P7 signs out, a party was organised for them! [We] wish every candidate the best of luck in their future life! Of the 18 candidates, 11 started kindergarten at Uphill 10 years ago! It has been so wonderful having them for the last 10 years (3 years of kindergarten and 7 years of primary education). Thank you so much parents and Uphill donors for making it happen for these kids! All the best! We also thank the teachers, those that have left and whose who are still teaching, for their contribution towards these kids! God bless you all!”
PUPIL SUPPORT FUND
Sixteen regular donors, including 2 primary schools, supported 27 children at Uphill Junior School this year (15 girls and 12 boys). Thank you so much for helping some of the children from the poorest families in the community to attend school.
24 of the 27 pupils you supported in 2023
The General Pupil Support Fund (PSF) continues to help any child in school who has an acute financial or medical need, along with funding occasional extra-curricular activities which benefit a larger number of pupils.
In January 2023, the fund supported another Holiday Skills Workshop. The pupils learnt how to make shoes, baskets, woven mats, liquid soap and doughnuts. These were sold locally (including to the Uphill trustees) and the sale revenue was used to purchase a mathematical instrument set for every child who took part.
UPHILL PORRIDGE CLUB
The Uphill Porridge Club (UPC) continues to be very popular with the pupils and their parents.
We have been told that it is one of the key deciding factors for parents selecting a local school for their children. Uphill Junior School offers 3 P’s for parents: Porridge, the kindergarten Playground and excellent Primary 7 PLE results!
The cost of providing porridge to every child in the school on a daily basis was £1,500 per term in 2023: This covers the purchase of maize, firewood and a cook’s salary. In October the school cooks started using the new kitchen and we expect firewood costs to reduce in 2024. The funding price point remains at £15 per child per year to help offset food price inflation.
UPC is funded by a combination of regular donors – bringing in £2,020 per year – one-off donations and fundraising balances carried over from 2021/22.
We are in the pleasing position of having sufficient funds to cover the cost of the project in full for 2024, but we will need to start fundraising for 2025.
Preparation of porridge in the new school kitchen, with pupils enjoying their hot snack in the new multipurpose hall
SCHOOL BUILD FUND
Our biggest achievements in 2023 have been our construction projects.
The school hall with kitchen, begun early in 2022, has FINALLY been completed!
The hall has been in use every school day since the middle of the year, and the kitchen came online in September – after a long delay in sourcing appropriate cooking utensils for the three eco-stoves.
Electricity has recently been installed and the kitchen is supplied with water from a 10,000L water harvesting tank – funded by a grant from the Eleanor Rathbone Foundation – along with a supply of on-demand drinking water from a new commercial borehole supply in the community.
We will be raising funds for an additional water tank in 2024 as the roof is large and you can never have too much water in rural Uganda!
The hall serves as dining room, assembly hall, meetings venue and a performance space – allowing school activities to take place in a dry, shaded location at last.
Apart from the water harvesting tank, this building has been entirely funded through community fundraising projects and sponsored events.
A huge Uphill thank you to everyone who ran, walked, and donated to help bring this project to completion.
The second big construction project in 2023 was the continued development of the staff compound, which is a short walk from the school and Iruhuura Trading Centre.
We were lucky to receive two generous grants to help with this project. The charity Meeting Needs, who have been great supporters of The Uphill Trust over the years, helped to fund the renovation of the existing building. The small latrine was upgraded, and a temporary kitchen and wash rooms were constructed using corrugated iron sheets.
In April, the teachers began to move in. Some have chosen to share rooms, as the new housing is far superior to the accommodation that the school was renting from local landlords in the Trading Centre.
It was always our plan to raise funds to build additional housing behind the first staff block, and to provide a permanent kitchen and a large sanitation block at the bottom of the site.
Thanks to a fabulous £15,000 grant from the Scottish charity, Hazel’s Footprints Trust, the first of two planned terraces, comprising the kitchen plus 4 two-room homes, is nearing completion.
We hope that all the teachers will living in the compound in 2024. Once we receive the cost estimates for the sanitation block (latrines, washrooms and a clothes washing area), construction for this will also begin.
Those who have already moved onto the site are delighted to have their own quiet space in which to rest, prepare lessons and relax. The landowners who live on either side of the staff compound are also delighted to have the Uphill staff living next door. They love their hardworking and respectful new neighbours!
Funding for the staff compound was topped up by a generous donation from the 2023 Dollar Academy Sponsored Walk, the 2023 Dundee Kiltwalk and other fundraisers.
TEACHER SALARY FUND
Now that income is no longer needed to cover the rent for the teachers, the school has been able to fully fund a teaching assistant for the large Kindergarten Baby Class in 2023.
The remainder of the staff salaries (director, headteacher and 13 classroom teachers) are paid by The Uphill Trust.
In 2023 the salary bill came to £12,800, and is covered by regular donations to the Trust.
This year 12 donors targeted their donations for teacher salaries and we used funds from 19 other regular donors to meet the monthly salary bill.
A huge thank you to everyone who has helped in this way.
Uphill Junior School continues to build on it’s excellent reputation and regularly receives positive reports from the Ministry of Education Primary and Early Years Inspectors.
Turnover of staff does occur but the regular and timely payment of salaries, plus the additional remuneration benefits (free housing and meals during the school day) help to retain a stable core of teachers at the school.
The Uphill teachers continue to throw themselves into school life – both in and out of the classroom – and are a credit to the school.
You are all making a fantastic contribution towards the support of grassroots education in rural Uganda.
Thank you from everyone in the Uphill community!