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It has been an eventful year for the Ibanda Literacy Schools, with the completion and opening of the new school at Kikokera on land we helped them buy in 2015.  The local community made the bricks, shaped the wood timbers, and provided the roofing sheets, and then erected the building and its separate brick latrine themselves.  The building has been in use most of the year, though without doors and windows till we were able to send money for these in June.  Diana officially “opened the building” when we visited in September, and they have now started work on two further classrooms.  Zelina, our co-ordinator, has long dreamed of a vocational centre where our adult literacy students could continue to acquire skills to enhance their family income.  The campus is large enough for this, and having a brick building which can be extended, instead of the wattle-and-mud construction of our other schools, brings us a step nearer.

In January the whole staff visited a Child Development Centre run by a friend of mine, which inspired them all with new ideas about time-tabling and the importance of play activities. This extended the training in nursery school work given by our friend Cathy Khurana on a visit in autumn 2015.  The children now have an hour for self-directed play at the end of the morning.

In March I visited five of the schools, and found them all in good heart.  The teachers’ enthusiasm was high.  Some of the buildings needed repairs to their mud plastering, but I was told this would be done when the rainy season began.

There has been a lot of drought this year, and our children’s families are suffering from scarcer food and lower incomes.  As part of our adult education we stress the importance of giving their children some of their fresh fruit and vegetables instead of treating all these as cash crops.  Luckily the mountains always provide enough water, though it often has to be carried a long way uphill.

The schools are beginning the process of registering with the Ugandan Ministry of Education, which is now a legal requirement.

The future:

At the end of this year I shall be reducing my commitment to our other partner, Rwenzori Peace Bridge of Reconciliation.  This does not alter my fund-raising commitment to the Literacy Schools, but it does mean I shall not be visiting Uganda every year.  So I have had to find a way to ensure that the Literacy Schools are continuing to function well and spend our money appropriately.  I have a friend Bahati Muhesi, who is a deputy headmaster in another part of the mountains;  he was one of our group who founded the Literacy Schools in 2001, and so is very acceptable to them.  He has agreed to act as our school inspector.  He will be available to the Director Lucy Kabasukali to advise on any problems, and to speak with teachers or village school committees if necessary.  He will visit Ibanda twice a year, to tell us that the schools are still functioning and the teachers properly paid.   He can also assess any unexpected needs which might lead Lucy to ask if we can find additional funds.  I have full trust in Bahati and know that he will reassure us if all is well, or warn us if there is anything wrong.         

To read about the development of the new Adult Learning Centre at Kibirizi, click here.

Above:  Distant view of Kisambo campus (white arrow)

Below:  Adult learners at Mirimbo campus

Above:  The new campus at Kikokera campus

Below:  Play materials at Kibirizi campus