Hello, my name is Michael Ochora, I am from Uganda and I am promoting secondary education in a rural village of Lakwatomer, Omoro District in Northern Uganda. Since 2017.
Hello, my name is Michael Ochora, I am from Uganda and I am promoting secondary education in a rural village of Lakwatomer, Omoro District in Northern Uganda. Since 2017, I have been mobilizing, supporting and working with local communities here to set up a community senior secondary school, St. Teresa High School Omoro, for girls and boys aged 12-17 years in this rural community to be able to achieve their education goal. Five families in this small village which is approximately 340 km from the Capital Kampala, offered 7 acres of land at a small amount in addition to 70% scholarship for their bonafied children studying in the school . I was able to mobilize through donations and my family contributions to provide initial funding for 4 classrooms.
In 2018, the school officially opened and enrolled 17 learners (8 boys and 9 girls) from this community. In 2019, more children from distant communities picked admissions to join the school because it was now closer to them than ever before. By end of 2019, 117 learners were comfortably sitting in these classrooms attending their lessons.
Parents of children in this school pay only Euro 276 per learner per year in tuition. According to the head teacher, the school uses this money for paying monthly salaries of 9 teachers and 7 support staff, provide for students meals (breakfast and lunch) and to provide scholastic and learning materials. Education is an expensive investment even for the parents. But for a parent to pay only Euros 276 per year for a child was the most affordable opportunity compared to many schools in the city which they would not afford.
‘I brought my child to St. Teresa High School Omoro because the fees is affordable, and I believe many parents in this village and neighborhood feel the same. I am happy the school is nearer home and I can easily monitor the progress of my child’, says Mr. Okot, one for the parents and member of the Board of Governors.
By the beginning of the new school year in February 2020, the number of children enrolled in this school tremendously increased beyond the expectation of the school. 94 new learners were enrolled in form one bringing the total population of the school to 208 learners (115girls and 93 boys). The news of the affordable fees was spreading like bush fire. And the school could not turn these children away, even when there was already clear pressure on the limited classroom facilities like furniture as you can see from the photo. The most important thing was to allow these children be in class and learn.
To be in school and learn in a classroom setting with your peers is one of the most exciting experience in the life of a child growing up. Before corona virus pandemic hit, these children in a rural village school were happy to be in school and share the little classroom space and desks as long they got to learn. But, when corona virus struck, their school like all others was closed on March 20, 2020 and the children went home with the hope of returning to resume from where they stopped.
‘‘I want to return to school and resume my class safely as soon as our school is reopened. I missed a lot and I want to catch up with my classmates”, says Watber Francis, one of the learners who quickly became popular among his peers for being not only the youngest boy in his class but also articulate and fun during a debating contest between senior one and senior two.
However, for Francis and his peers in this rural village school of St. Teresa High School Omoro, their enthusiasm and dream of continuing with their education may be ended because of the corona virus situation which has forced government to put tough measures for schools before they can reopen. Francis is worried that he may not return to his class safely. And so are his fellow learners and teachers.
Teacher Bob is a teacher of Agriculture and Physical Education. He is one of the 9 teachers who have dedicated themselves to live in this community with limited to no amenities to help these children realize their dreams. However, his school being a rural school and together with Francis and fellow learners may not return to school because their school is unable to meet the requirement for social distancing due to lack of classroom space and facilities as you can see in this pictures. If it were not for corona virus, they would have persevered in their situation just for the interest of learning.
“I want to be back in class to teach my learners because that is where I belong. But the classroom now is not going to be the same as we had in February before corona pandemic. We don’t have enough space in our classroom to maintain social distancing. I am worried”, says teacher Bob, as his learners call him.
With the Covid-19 situation, this close sharing will no longer be allowed. Government requires all schools to observe the standard operating procedures of social distancing in classrooms and other spaces like dining areas and dormitories.
For Francis and teacher Bob, their school will require additional classrooms and furniture so that they can observe the social distancing. According to the Head teacher of the school, they need to build one more classroom and improve the current classroom space, provide classroom tables and chairs for each learner so as to be able to #take these children and staff back to classroom safely. If this is not done, the school cannot be given a certificate of compliance when they are next assessed in December and yet the school is unable to provide online classes. A no certificate of compliance means no reopening of the school and therefore Francis and teacher Bob together with all the children and staff will be severely affected. For teacher Bob and all other staff, it will mean loss of jobs and will struggle to provide for their families in this corona hard times.
That is why we are reaching out to you to support this school to build one classroom block and furnish the current classroom facilities so that Francis and his colleagues together with teacher Bob and other teachers can go back to their classroom safely in January and the other support staff will also get back to their jobs and be able to support their families.
This money will be used for buying materials (bricks, cement, timbers, roofing sheets and nails, paints) and paying labor for constructing one classroom block, improving space of current classrooms and buying buying furniture (table and chairs) for each learner so that they can safely sit in the classroom as per required for social distancing.
They need your compassion, they need our support. The school community, the students and staff will be very grateful for any contribution that you are able to make to # take Francis and teacher Bob and their colleagues back to their classrooms safely!
Each of our donor will receive a customized thank you card with the school logo, and a picture of the class for which you donated. In addition, your name will automatically enter the famous school book - OUR FRIENDS AND BACKERS. We thank you for your compassion.
Please send that little, it is not too little to improve a bad condition!.
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