We just posted some great photos of CASA Capilano University students Tess and Jess’s time in Ibanda, Uganda. Tess and Jess were the first of the CASA team to visit Ibanda. Their goal this summer was to get to know the community and see if they had a requested skill set to pass on to community members. Overwhelming the community partners requested learning basic computer skills.
For Canadian university students, this skill set was not a problem! So Tess and Jess armed themselves with some computer workshops that had been successfully used by a group in Ghana. They worked with the teachers from Kimunyu Memorial Primary School, the teachers and students from Ankole Secondary School, and a locally formed community business cooperative Kafunjo Cooperative. Teachers wanted to learn how to use the computer to more effectively track student marks, secondary students wanted to learn basic skills for future job opportunities, and the business cooperative hopes to start applying for small grants.
Back in May I profiled the community business cooperative in the blog post “Community.” Today I want to take time to profile the primary school partner…
We are so proud to have Kimunyu Memorial Primary School as a Stratosphere partner. The school was founded by Ibanda community leaders who wanted to give back to their home town.
The school set up shop in an old, run down school that had closed. I had the pleasure of meeting the board members that founded the school and the current principal. These friendly meetings left me with no doubt as to why our Uganda Program Director Dan Ahimbisibwe recommended them as our first primary school partner. The board members are local community members that saw a need for another local primary school and felt it was a great way to contribute to their rapidly growing community.
The school is funded through low tuition fees and a boarding facility. They have a flexible tuition program that allows families to pay late, or in the worst case scenario they will allow families to skip a payment if they are really struggling.
Kimunyu Primary School and Ibanda are off the map of international NGO’s. It is a simple private school that has raised funds through these low, flexible tuition fees. This means the facilities remain very basic. There are only a few textbooks per classroom (including the teacher’s copies). There are no doors or windows in the classrooms. There is no library. There were no computers until this summer and teachers had limited if any experience with a computer. But teachers and students make do. And the school is proud of their sports programs and academic offering.
Stratosphere believes strongly in supporting locally run, existing schools. Schools abound in rural Uganda, but many are basic like Kimunyu. They struggle to maintain their existing facilities, let alone upgrade what they have. We also believe that parents should be empowered to support their own children’s education, which is why we support the development of local business cooperatives and business development. We would much rather see parents pay for their own child’s education.
So what does that mean for Stratosphere? We concentrate on helping partner schools improve their facilities and supplies. We are particularly interested in facilities that improve literacy because we believe being literate and passionate about reading is one skill set that all people can benefit from for the rest of their life. Literacy exposes people to new ideas and new opportunities and it creates lifelong learning. If you are curious, I wrote about developing a reading culture back in May.
Our participants will support our partner schools developing their library resources. And the students that travel to Uganda will encourage a love of reading through story telling activities. More on these plans soon!