COVID-19 and Uganda
When the coronavirus first struck in 2020, Uganda was forced to shutdown all of its schools completely. There’s no such thing as virtual learning in Uganda, so many children were forced to find work in order to help support their families. Schools were able to reopen briefly in January 2021, but the Delta and Omicron waves forced closures once again.
When schools reopened in January 2022, many Ugandan children have been out of the classroom for almost two years. In some districts, it’s estimated that 50% of female students won’t ever return to school.
Upon return, several of our partner schools have faced challenges. Many students returned to dilapidated and damaged buildings; two of the Resource Centers that we built sustained damage to their structures, shelving, and books. One school, Katete, returned to discover that there had been a robbery and their handwashing stations had been stolen.
Other schools have seen a massive influx in students during the pandemic. Namulaba Primary School has always been our smallest partner; though their records indicated they had about 75 students enrolled, we never witnessed more than 20-30 at a time. They now register over 300 students. With more students, comes more challenges.
Overall, Sister Schools will be supporting the same number of children at our fourteen partner schools, but where they are enrolled as shifted drastically as families moved out of cities during the pandemic. We hope that these projects will be the “final push” that our partners need in order to stay open and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phase 1 – Repairing Resource Centers
As Ugandan schools reopened to all students in January after almost two years of pandemic closures, students were more excited than ever to return to reading. Some of the first questions that were asked by students were “when would the Resource Center be open for them to check-out books?”
We are so excited to relaunch our Literacy Training Workshops and Skype Sessions this summer – but first we need your help: several of our Resource Centers require structural repairs in order to fully reopen to their students.
At Mukono Town Muslim Primary School, a leak in the ceiling went undetected when the school was forced to shutter its doors during the Delta and Omicron waves last spring. For almost nine months, water ate away at the shelving and books, completely destroying them in spots. Instead of being easily accessible to the students, books are shoved into every nook and cranny of the remaining shelves and teachers hope that new holes do not develop in the roof.
At Lutengo Primary School, a bat infestation grew out of control while the school was closed. Not only do the animals need to be removed and the roof replaced, but several shelves and books were damaged by the nocturnal residents. Students continue to use the Resource Center despite the disturbance caused by the critters, but the bats remain a threat not only to the books and shelving, but to the health and safety of the children.
The coronavirus pandemic caused massive demographic shifts in Uganda as many families relocated closer to extended family and the villages they grew up in. Sittankya Primary School saw a 22% increase in enrollment between 2019 and 2022. Headteacher Esther secured outside funding and gave the school an incredible facelift, including dormitories, a new well, and a library with a full-time librarian. However, this final project was not completed as they struggle to add enough shelving to the room. In order to join our Literacy Training Program and truly take advantage of all of Ruth’s expertise, they need your help.
Our damaged Resource Centers were not the only challenge to greet returning students and educators. Teachers continue to struggle with their students, schools must meet new, strict hygiene standards in order to remain open, and materials to keep students clothed and in school continue to dwindle.
Repairing our Resource Centers is just the first step in addressing these challenges – what we hope to be the final push our partners need in order to return to “normal.”
You can make a difference in Uganda today – make a donation and help us raise $3,500 to complete repair the Resource Centers and libraries in these three partner schools so their students can enjoy reading once again.