A class of our own

Otingowiye school opening ceremony, July 2011. Photo: Katharine Sidelnik.

Hundreds of thousands of children in northern Uganda have had their education disrupted because they've been forced to flee their homes for the relative safety of the Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camps.

They're now returning home but there's a severe shortage of adequate schools, teachers and basic materials. Here's how War Child is helping to change all that:

Before

Otingowiye lies in Agogo district - one of the poorest areas of Uganda, which has recently emerged from 21 years of conflict.

Otingowiye used to have the highest school drop-out rates in the whole district.

  • Half of boys and 60% of girls dropped out before completing Primary School.
  • It had a student:teacher ratio of 100:1.
  • The school had three temporary classrooms. Many lessons were taught outside under trees and were disrputed by the weather.

Construction

We built three classrooms with staffrooms, a block of teachers' housing and a library.

We were working alongside the UNHCR who built four classrooms.

For the construction of the buildings, we purchased a hydro-form brick making machine. We've given it to the community who now earn an income for the school by making and selling bricks for other local construction projects.

After

  • The school now has 465 students (up 150% on last year). We hope to enroll 500 next year.
  • The pupil:teacher ratio has reduced to 60:1. That's in large part due to more teachers coming to the school as they now have somewhere decent to live.
  • Only two children have dropped out of school this year.
  • We've given all the students some stationery and some books.
  • 260 of the poorest children have been provided with a uniform and a school bag. It enabled 80 of them to come to school for the first time as their parents couldn't afford such things.
  • We've fitted out the school with all the equipment and furniture it needs.
  • Our Child Protection Committees are supporting families to keep their kids in school.

The cost of transforming this entire community: £17,000.

It will directly teach 500 kids a year and indirectly benefit more than 5,000 other people in the community.

for the first time in the history of this school, there are more girls than boys in every year from 1-7.

This is a result of continued support from our project officers and teachers, the provision of school equipment and increased teacher-pupil contact time.

It is also due to our lobbying of parents and local leaders to put a stop to early and forced child marriages.

Ebrima - our Field Director in Uganda.

This is what the school classrooms used to look like
Above three photos: Katharine Sidelnik