In the latest in our profiles of Volunteer Uganda’s partner schools, we take a trip to Mothercare Primary School on the edge of Kanungu town.
For me, there is one Volunteer Uganda partner school which will always feel like home.
As a volunteer back in 2011, I taught P5 at Mothercare Primary School and have retained links with many of the teachers and pupils since then.
It is, like the majority of schools Volunteer Uganda works with, a private school which, while adhering to the standards and curriculum set by the Ugandan Department of Education, has the opportunity to go the extra mile, offering more services to pupils such as healthcare and enhancing the experience of learners through additional classes and activities such as the school’s brass band.
Returning to Mothercare, I was especially excited to see my class again, now in P7 preparing to take the exams that will determine if they can graduate to high school.
Of the fifty-five kids who listened – well, sometimes listened – to me over the summer of 2011, only twelve remain.
The reasons are varied, and tragic.
“Unable to pay school fees, had to return home to earn money for their family, malaria.” The last reason, delivered in a matter-of-fact way to me by Martin, the twenty-four year old head teacher of Mothercare, is as chilling as it is expected.
I know malaria kills. I know malaria kills more in Uganda than many other African countries. And I know my class of fifty-five is not immune to that harsh reality. But yet, they were my children and I have lost one, not just from school but from this world. A sobering reminder of the challenges faced in rural Uganda and the work that is still to be done through Inspiring Futures: Uganda to protect children from malaria.
Another of my children has flourished. Claire, always one of the best and brightest in P5, is now Mothercare’s Head Girl. She is top of her current class and is on course to move to high school next year to continue her education.
I am sure that she has a bright future ahead of her, one made possible by the path through education which is open to her as well as her undoubted ability and commitment.
This tale of two children is not uncommon, and it will certainly not become a story long since forgotten anytime soon. But we can make a difference and even up the odds.
It is my hope, and Volunteer Uganda’s aim, that the path through education taken by Claire is opened up for more and more children. It is journey worth taking.