Liz Walton, Chair of Trustees of All Our Children reports on a recent visit to Kabale.
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Visit to Kabale in April 2012
Every year in the Easter holidays, a group of teachers and students from the UK visits the schools and community projects in Kabale which are supported by All Our children. In 2012 the largest group to visit yet (34) consisted of 9 current and 2 retired William Morris Sixth Form (WMSF) staff members, 11 current and 3 ex-WMSF students, 5 teachers from Havelock Primary School in Southall, 2 secondary school teachers from Cardinal Vaughan School in Ealing and Hampstead School in Camden, and 2 other young people. Amongst them were three trustees of All Our Children (Raj Bains, Helen Mooney and Liz Walton).
We were joined for two days by Gertrude Atukunda, who monitors our sponsored children and pays school fees on behalf of All Our Children. She accompanied the Havelock teachers to Blessed Academy Primary School and also had a meeting with the headteacher of Kigezi High School. She provided valuable feedback to us.
As Ethiopian Airlines allows two 23 kilo pieces of luggage per person, a considerable amount of books, other teaching materials, toys, football kit etc was transported and distributed to various schools and the street children project.
The student group (some of whom were supported financially by All Our Children) was exceptionally self-motivated this year and their experience was very positive. One student described it as “the most amazing experience of my life”. Students appreciated the range of schools and projects they could visit. In her evaluation, one of the students wrote: “All the work the charity is doing in Uganda is really inspiring and it was wonderful to see that help is actually reaching the people who need it.”
Overall the visit was very successful indeed with good consolidation and many positive developments. Each staff member and the student group have reported on what was achieved in the school(s) they worked in and what future developments there may be. These reports are summarised briefly below.
Kigezi High School
Teachers and students spent time in KHS as usual. Improvements were noted in teaching methods in Economics and English where teachers were using strategies introduced on previous visits. Members of the administration team confirmed that our visits are having an impact, particularly on teacher punctuality, use of ICT, development of more active teaching strategies, and the role of heads of department. The headteacher stated that this impact could also be seen in improved results.
Three teachers and a KHS teacher planned and ran 4 gender workshops (1 for female students, 1 for male students and 2 joint) on issues brought up by students on previous visits. The purpose of the workshops was to raise awareness, enable students to reflect on their behaviour, and make commitments that would improve the wellbeing of both genders at KHS. After a slow start, the students became more confident and engaged, ending with an individual pledge to make one realistic and achievable change to improve gender relationships.
We met all the students we sponsor at KHS, talked to them about their achievements and hopes for the future, and received reports on their progress from teachers. They are all serious students, determined to do well, and very grateful for the sponsorship which has enabled them to remain at the school.
Lake Bunyonyi Christian Community and Vocational Secondary School
This school is supported by the Richard Feilden Foundation (set up by Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, an architectural design firm). We had agreed with them that we would look at the overall curriculum and particularly discuss the development of enterprise skills across the vocational curriculum. Both academic and vocational lessons were observed, active methods demonstrated in one lesson, and discussions held on how to use the resources we donated to make learning more active. The teachers were very receptive. Liz Walton reported back to a RFF trustees’ meeting on 11.5.12.
Our science teacher made a good link with their science and IT teachers, showing them how to use a data-logger donated by a school in Bristol and giving them ideas for its use. As they have very little equipment, we urge UK schools who can make small donations of specific items of science equipment to contact us.
Kabale Pentagon College
This is a new secondary school set up by Kenneth Agaba, a former KHS teacher with whom WMSF teachers have worked on previous visits. The teaching staff includes several current KHS teachers who are working part-time in both schools.
We were impressed with the site and the quality of the building, as we were with the enthusiasm and commitment Kenneth and his staff showed. He was particularly interested in developing his and his senior team’s leadership skills and we look forward to working with him on future visits.
Wise Parents’ Nursery and Day Care Centre
In 2010, All Our Children made a significant donation for the purchase of land to build a new school which is now open and looks very good. The existing building on the site has been converted into classrooms by the construction of partitions. We met the five children given free places in return for the support given by All Our Children; one of them had been severely malnourished and is now on a special diet.
Teachers from Havelock School (who had split themselves into two groups to work in either the nursery or Blessed Academy) worked intensively with the nursery teachers on key early learning strategies (e.g. classroom arrangements to facilitate differentiated activities, the teaching of phonics) and on showing them how to use the excellent resources they donated. They felt the teachers responded very positively. Needless to say, the children were delighted!
WMSF students supported enthusiastically, really enjoying their time with the nursery children.
Blessed Academy Primary School
The current facilities at this school are very poor, but the headteacher has bought land with the aim of opening a new school within two years.
The teachers from Havelock School worked intensively on training the teachers. They focused on phonics, inclusivity, differentiation and classroom arrangement. They helped sort out toys, books etc previously donated and reported back to us on what should be donated in the future. They found the teachers welcoming, respectful and receptive and were surprised at how quickly they formed good relationships with them.
Taufiq Primary School
Teachers and students spent two mornings in this very poor muslim school on a little project based on the children talking about their daily routine and then writing a letter to a child in the UK. The headteacher, a governor and the Imam were welcoming (pleased that All Our Children is a secular charity) and very grateful for the resources given to the school.
WMSF students were given details about the school, including their support of a number of orphans. The WMSF student council, representing a student body with a high percentage of muslims, is considering raising money for mosquito nets for the dormitories and for repainting of some of the classrooms.
Restore Lost Hope Street Children Centre
Before the visit it had been agreed that the work this year should concentrate on basic English. If the street children are to progress to school, they have to have a level of English which very few have at present. A range of workshops and materials were prepared in advance in the UK. The children were divided into two age groups (5-9 and 9-15) and issued with an exercise book so that they could keep a record. The main focus was on phonetics but the workshops also included songs and games. The two lead teachers were very pleased with the response and progress.
The UK students helped in a very positive way throughout the week.
On the last day, 66 street children aged between 7 months and 15 years were taken on a picnic. Students and staff devised innovative and entertaining competitive games. The enjoyment of the children was described as “overwhelming”.
A trustee of All Our Children visited Penelope, the first street child to be funded through All Our Children to attend secondary school. She met the headteacher who reported that he was very happy with her progress.
National College for Teaching
This is the third year of visits to the college which is proving to be an important partner. Following an introduction in the first year and observation of an induction seminar in the second year, a class was taught this year. Three WMSF staff members participated in working with a cohort of Art and English teachers, focusing on active learning, use of ICT for research, questioning skills, revision techniques, and assessment for learning. One WMSF teacher commented on the value of being in this training role for his own professional development.
Update on ex-KHS students now at university and supported by All Our Children
Four of the university students we support came to visit us: Phionah, Philleous, Ruth and Dorote. They are all very committed students and expressed their gratitude for the financial support from All Our Children which is enabling them to be in higher education. Two of them will finish their courses this year: Phionah is nearing the end of her training as a nurse and will begin a one year internship in the autumn and Dorote will finish her course in NGO Management and Social Work after one more semester.
We were also visited by Emmanuel who was helped with his fees (although not fully sponsored) whilst at KHS. He is studying journalism in Kampala and is the president of the journalists’ society in his university. He too expressed his appreciation.
It was very rewarding to see these young people succeeding at university and maturing so well.
Liz Walton (Chair of Trustees of All Our Children)