Meeting with the school board including PTA members 22.10.2017
We heard the Ugandan national anthem and then had prayers.
We heard from Mme Resty and Mr Robert Kunye who on behalf of the board and the school, thanked us enormously for our donations since 2013 and the impact all the projects were having on the school and the students, and it was stated ‘together with our creativity, resourcefulness and generosity, we can rise to great heights’ and it was emphasisied that our joint projects were ‘improving the skills of a generation’.
The ensuing discussion described the initiatives arising from the aforesaid donations and the successes and challenges of these activities. These can be summarised as follows:
1. Lunches- these are having a huge impact.
A. School roll- since 2013 the roll has increased from 620 to 936. As a result there is not enough space to accommodate the children in suitable classrooms and the recently built dormitory is instead being used for classes rather than sleeping. They have capped the school roll at 936 as, despite the rising popularity of the school, they cannot physically accommodate any more students.
B. Absenteeism- this was at the lowest rate ever. Students stayed at school all of the academic day and did not leave the school grounds to forage for food. This also improved the personal security of the girls.
C. Academic performance- this was improving year on year. Children were visibly happier and were able to concentrate better throughout the day. Exam marks had seen a noticeable difference.
2. Farm- see separate report here for full description.
A. Productivity- despite 10acres of land being purchased only 5 months ago it had been put to immediate use, a proportion had been cleared and had already provided 700kg of maize and 300kg of beans and tangerines. The land will not only produce food for lunches but for breakfast and supper too.
B. Planning- the advice of land experts has already been sought and a report will be ready by end of the month. This will advise on crop planting, layout, drainage, location of shelters for animals and workers. Advice and support has also been given from the chairman of the local village. Other farms around with good drainage facilities will also be used for advice.
C. Animals- cows required for milk, oxen for ploughing. Chicken will be bought too and maybe some pigs. There is a strong desire to purchase animals now before the dollar devalues further.
D. Staff- a manager is being actively sought as well as workers for the land. The students have already helped to harvest crops.
E. Security- a fence will be required to keep roaming animals out and for security
F. Transportation- An important problem is transport as the road is not suitable for available vehicles which are being ruined by the condition of the terrain. There are 2-3 journeys made each week to the farm.
G. Power- there is a hydroelectric dam relatively nearby but no easy way to harness this. Electricity provision stops some way from the farm. It was discussed that although expensive in the short run, solar power would probably be the best and cheapest option in the long run.
H. Storage- storage on the school site can only hold 3 days worth of food. More storage will be essential.
3. Other potential projects were discussed:
A. Fencing- for the school to keep the girls secure
B. New building- for 2 more classrooms is needed
C. Library facilities- Julie-Clare spoke of a generous donation made by a family who were keen to provide learning materials and books for the girls. The library had been visited and was in much need of renovation. This donation could support the re-provision of a more functional space which would optimise the learning environment. It had been agreed previously by Mme Resty that this library could be called after the little Scottish boy who loved his books and whose parents had made the donation.