Kirima – an example of parent power

In the second part of our look at the three schools Volunteer Uganda is working with over the next three months we visit Kirima Parents Primary School on the outskirts of Kanungu town.

Kirima Parents

Kirima Parents – pronounced ‘Chir-ima’ like all ‘ki’ words in Rukiga – is Volunteer Uganda’s flagship school, working in association with a Ugandan NGO called CHIFCOD.

Although the pronunciation is important, the addition of ‘parents’ to the school’s name is far more enlightening to the story of the school which is a twenty-minute drive from the VU lodge.

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In the 1970s, under the brutal regime of Idi Amin, the once great Ugandan education system was brought to its knees. Government schools became little more than battery farms for children; cooped up 100 to a class, inadequate resources and appallingly poor standards.

Parents began to tire of a system that was not serving children, families or communities so they began to band together to set up their own schools. Kirima Parents is one such school.

Set up in 1994, it began life as a hut which was split into two rooms and acted as a makeshift nursery. The lack of good quality education and the desire of parents to provide for their children ensured that the school grew rapidly and, benefitting from its independence from government, the school built more classrooms, the first dorms for boarders, and purchased a generator for electricity – still a rarity in Ugandan schools.

Like many ‘parents’ schools, Kirima takes pride in looking at every aspect of education, constantly asking the question “what can we improve?” It has a commitment to pay its teachers well, feed its pupils at lunchtime and provide welfare and health support to pupils and their families.

This attitude continues today with Kirima Parents’ association with Volunteer Uganda and VU’s sister charity, Inspiring Futures (IF:U), of which I am a trustee.

As part of a school roll of over 600, around 250 pupils sleep at school. At the time of writing this post, only 8 have mosquito nets. Malaria is the single biggest killer in Uganda, with over 70,000 children under-5 dying every year.

Kirima Parents has recognised that this is a problem that needs to be urgently addressed if its pupils are to remain healthy and able to continue their education.

IF:U is now working with Kirima Parents to equip the dorms with protective mosquito nets.

Much as Kirima Parents is always asking “what can we improve?”, ask yourself what IF:U could help?

To find out more about Inspiring Futures’ mosquito net project visit www.ifuganda.org

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