The Second Year Program

The Second Year Program

Sister Schools’ second year program continues to empower local students while providing needed materials in Ugandan schools.  After teaching students to be generous and compassionate in year one, Sister Schools then hones these skills by introducing and inviting them to respond to a specific need in Ugandan communities.  Since 2013, second year schools have been purchasing and filling backpacks for Ugandan students, some of whom walk more than an hour to school each morning.

Why Backpacks?

Most Ugandan schools offer two enrollment options for students: boarding or day school.  Boarding is significantly more expensive but because students live on school grounds, they have more time to study and more access to their teachers after school.  Day students must walk – sometimes several hours each way – with their materials on roads that often don’t have sidewalks.  This takes hours out of their day, puts them at risk of injury by vehicles, and means they could lose their materials en route to school.  If a student arrives at school without at least a pencil and paper, the school will likely send them home until they can replace the materials.  If neither the school nor the family can afford even one pencil, the student will not return to school.

During the second year program, Sister Schools invites local students to participate in another supply drive aimed at supplying backpacks filled with scholastic materials for Ugandan day students.  A new, fundraising component is added to purchase the backpacks from a local Ugandan company, but schools can decide for themselves how to raise the funds.  Most host a coin drive at the same time as the supply drive, but some always find a creative way!  In 2018, Christa McAuliffe Elementary School donated the proceeds from their annual staff Gingerbread “House” competition – and the entries were STUNNING!  In 2019, staff at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School pledged to take a pie in the face if the school reached $2,000; boy did it motivate their students!

Students are asked to focus their supply drive on four key items to fill the backpacks: pencils, crayons, composition books, and early readers.  Together, these items keep Ugandan children in school, provide them with enrichment outside of the classroom, and lessen the burden of both their families and their schools.  In order to give each student the opportunity to participate, Sister Schools continues to accept any school supplies as they did in year one – no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money their families have, children can always plant a seed of hope in someone else’s life.

Jude’s Day

As a part of our second year program, local students experience a day in the life of a day school student by following Jude, a P.5 student at Lutengo Primary Day School, during the presentation.

Jude is a twelve year old fifth grader who lives in a small, one bedroom house with his mother, older sister, and young niece.

Every morning, Jude gets up before dawn and sets off for school while it is still dark, usually no later than 6 am.  Living just over three miles from school, it will take Jude about an hour to make the journey.

By the time he reaches school around 7 am, the sun is up and many students are already doing their morning chores.  Some students sweep and clean the compound, other students take firewood to the kitchen, while still others bring water from a nearby well to fill the kitchen water tank.  Since Jude’s class has no scheduled chores that morning, he heads straight to class.

Many times, Jude is the first to arrive.  So he gets out his papers and begins reviewing yesterday’s work while preparing for the coming day’s lessons.  By 7:30, his teacher is preparing for the morning lessons while Jude’s classmates slowly filter in.  Soon, all 45 students will have arrived and the morning lessons will begin at 8 am.

At 10am, the school takes a short break for porridge.  Every student gets one cup.  It’s Jude’s first food since last night’s supper.  Jude’s teacher stays in the classroom, preparing for the next subject, Social Studies.  By 10:30, Jude and his classmates are back in class.  They only have one Social Studies textbook, so they have to pay attention.

After two and a half hours of instruction, the children get lunch at 1pm.  During their hour break, Jude and his schoolmates will receive the same meal they get every day of the week: posha and beans.

Lunch is included with their school fees, but only students who are up-to-date on their payments get lunch.  Those who are not current with their school fees will have to make due with just the morning porridge.  After cleaning their dishes, the children use the rest of their lunch hour to visit with friends or play games in the school’s field.

At 2 pm, Jude and the rest of the students are back in class for their afternoon lessons.  For the next three and a half hours, Jude and his classmates will receive instruction, review materials, and have a chance to ask questions.

At 5 pm, the school day officially ends for most students.  Jude and his classmates gather their belongings and head outside.  Most, like Jude, head directly home.  There is still lots of work to be done.

As soon as he gets home, Jude changes clothes and heads to the nearest well.  It’s a 15 to 20 minute walk and Jude makes it almost every day.  Jude is fortunate today; there is no line, so it will not take long to fill his container.  Once his jerry can is full, he hoists it to his head, and begins his slow walk home.

His mother has dinner waiting, so Jude takes a few minutes to enjoy his sweet potatoes and yams.  It is already well past 7 pm and the light will be fading soon, so Jude finishes his meal and heads over to the cooking area where he will wash and clean his dishes.  Jude’s final chore of the day is to sweep the compound.

Once he has tidied everything up and is satisfied with the results, Jude will head into the house where he will review his lessons for the day.  It’s already past 8 and the light is almost gone, but Jude will study until he can no longer read the pages.

As his day comes to an end, Jude takes his water and wash basin outside.  It’s nighttime now, but the moon will provide enough light for him to wash.  When he’s finished, Jude heads inside to sleep.  Tomorrow, he will start all over again.


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