Gulu District has a challenge; the government has set a goal of 100 1st grades in primary 7 national exams to show progress toward improving the educational quality in Northern Uganda. A first grade is receiving greater than 80% in all courses. This is no easy feat in northern Uganda, as schools are still reestablishing themselves after returning home from the civil war. They seem to be on the right track, in 2011 Gulu District received 66 1st grades, in 2010 there were 33 and in 2009 it was only three! The expectation from Lela Obaro is ten 1st grades, there are 35 primary seven students and in 2011 they received two 1st grades. Students in Primary seven spend a lot of extra time at school studying and taking mock exams, hence the importance of the P7 feeding program we are working on establishing with school administration and the parent teachers association.
Archive for July, 2012
The Ssubi Foundation and the parents of Lela Obaro helped dig a new garden to supplement the teacher and P7 feeding program. We were impressed when over 200 parents arrived at the school with hoes in hand to start digging. They work in groups under a leader, each group responsible for a section of the garden. The turn out is significant, as it is harvest season and people are very busy in their own gardens! The Ssubi Foundation contributed the seeds, sodas and a little volunteer labour to the endeavour. Thanks to Chris Ochouwon for the photos.
A large tree outside the teacher accommodations at Lela Obaro was struck by lightning and badly damaged. I thought it would be used as firewood for cooking, but the tree remained on site untouched for over a year. In Acholi, culture if a tree is struck by lightning they believe it is a bad omen and traditionally it can not be used for cooking. We hired a guy with a chain saw to make stools for sitting on and they have become very popular. Lightning is a serious issue and this year we are installing lightning rods on the buildings we have constructed at Lela Obaro. Last year an entire classroom of children died in central Uganda when their classroom was struck by lightning.
We made a quick weekend visit to Kampala to attend Lilly Schools music and drama competition as guests. The event was a full day affair (8:00 am – 7:00pm) and really displayed the energy and success of the school. We were excited to receive the Honorable Deputy Speaker of Uganda at the event and then for lunch at Jajja’s house (Philips mom). It was an exciting day, a time to relax and enjoy the wonderful success of Lilly Kindergarten and Primary School.
The RT Library at Lela Obaro is looking great. It is clean, organized and seems to be running efficiently. The school hired a permanent librarian and the parents are paying the monthly salary. I had a good laugh when I found a Captain Underpants book donated by US AID. If you compare this to the local Ugandan readers such as Merina Say no to Sugar Daddy and Living in a web of AIDs the different realities for the majority of children growing up in Canada vs Uganda becomes apparent.
Judy G. is welcomed to Lela Obaro by the students during a school break. They are so interested in her camera and video equipment that one of us has to distract them by taking photos and showing them how they look so she can take footage without a hoard of children gathered around her. It’s great fun as they all seem to think their friends are funnier on camera than in person and they like to make different faces.
Today we visited a slave fort, where Arab Traders held and sorted African slaves. It is not what one would expect of a traditional fort in Canada, as they made use of the natural rock and caves. The scenery was beautiful, but the worst part of the human nature is exposed the raw and it hangs in the air here. Once leaving the site to return to Gulu, you pass memorial sites where massacres occurred during the recent civil war in Northern Uganda.
We are all very impressed and rather fascinated by the depth of the hole dug for the teachers pit latrines. It had to be 40 feet deep and they accomplish this using shovel, pick axe, a jerry can on a rope and shear manpower. While one man climbs down into the hole and digs into a bucket, the other pulls it up and empties it. It will take one entire week of this process to get all the way down to 40 ft.
The Ssubi Cup is the one time in a year either school has an opportunity to play against another school, as transport costs prohibit such exchanges. The football match started with a little excitement as both teams had brought in ringers (older players no longer in primary school), after a very powerful lecture from Philip, these players were removed and the game began. Once again Lela Obaro proved to be very strong and won handily. The Palenga team was given the ball as a consolation prize and so they can practice!
Palenga Primary School hosted The Ssubi Cup this year and as usual the day was filled with fierce competition, none more so than the girls netball match between Lela Obaro Primary School, the reigning cup champions, and Palenga Primary School. Closest game ever, back and forth, but Palenga scored right near the end to win! The home crowd reacted in the expected hysterical manner which added great flavor to the day.