Distribution visits to two hard-working primary schools today. Kisowera was established in 1918. Some buildings in their teachers’ quarters date back to that time, others to the ’40′s, others are much newer. That’s one reason why they were so excited with today’s dedication of the library/resource center Sister Schools helped build. Sister Schools gave the school one of our shipping containers a few years ago, which they sold to provide initial capital. Employees at OAC Services in Seattle contributed most of the rest of the money to complete the building.
Right now, Uganda doesn’t have a reading culture. As Kisowera Head Teacher Tom joked, “If you want to hide anything in Uganda, put it in a book.” Even many Ugandan students think of books as only necessary for reference. Kis0wera teachers and other educators want to change that culture so that people begin to read for pleasure. The library/resource center will be a key part of that change, since books will be available to all.
Lutengo Primary School, our afternoon visit, is situated in a more rural and traditional area. As at every school we’ve visited so far, Lutengo students look happy and healthy. Students are, however, stuffed into classrooms, ranging from 53 students in P-7 to 96 in P-4. There are only enough desks for about two-thirds of the P-7 class. None of the 62 students in P-5 have desks. “They have to keep the room clean,” said Head Teacher Carolyn ruefully, “because they sit on the floor.” Carolyn and her 540 students and 11 teachers have been working very hard, and their hard work is paying off. “Last year,” she said, “we had 10 passing grades [in the country-wide P-7 exit exam] out of 75. Before that, there were only one or none. Now, our children can read and write.”
Lutengo is the site of Sister Schools’ next resource center. They, too, will start with the proceeds from selling our container, and we will fund-raise back home for the rest. “The community will use the resource center, too,” said Carolyn. It’s all part of the country-wide desire to move to a reading culture.