Uganda, Africa

UGA02b - Pangani School Development, Kween: Partnership Reports



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Report Date: October 16, 2017

Report from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitators Following Visit in July

 

Key people: James and Gorret Mayende   

We, together with BHW's Executive Director and a few donor partners, went to Kween with James and Gorret on 24 July and subsequently to Pangani School with them on Saturday 29 July for the day.

There are both good and difficult issues associated with this school. 

Recent Events

water supplyBorehole

On the positive side we had a good opportunity to look at the borehole which has now been installed on the site. It is about 100 metres from the school itself and, in addition to the school, serves about 100 people in the local community who would otherwise have to walk just over a kilometre to the trading centre to get their water each day. James told us there had been some difficulties with the contractor who installed the well and that he has his suspicions that the contractor did not take the well as deeply as he had originally been contracted to do. This was because the original well that the contractor dug was in the wrong place and did not strike water and he was required to redo it at his own expense. Apparently he only re-drilled the well with bad grace.

James says that the water flow is not as he would have expected and he is in the process of having an engineer check it out. He did, however, say that during the time of prolonged drought that has been experienced through Western Uganda, the borehole did not dry up. When we saw it the water flow was quite reasonable despite the fact that there has only been minimal rain in the last few months. 

water supply

Fruit Trees

The proposal to plant fruit trees around the perimeter of the school was implemented, but unfortunately the trees died because of the drought.   

School Principal

Of greater concern is the relationship of the principal in the school to the teachers and the school board. Last year I reported on the principal, Asuman Cherotec, and had a long discussion with him about the school. Since then it seems his attitude has changed considerably and it seems he is wanting to take over the school for himself. This was immediately apparent in my brief meeting with him this year. There were also some questions as to whether things were being accounted for appropriately.

Since our visit a meeting has been held with the village elders and parents of children at the school, Asuman has resigned and the issues have now been resolved. The situation obviously became very difficult but we are gratified to see that James has intervened in a decisive way and has taken steps to ensure that the school can now continue appropriately. 

School

some of the pupilsSince the school started in 2013 it has functioned quite well. Some of the children come from 3-4 kms away because the nearest government school is a further 5 kms away from the Kween Trading Centre. The school now goes to P7 and has 10 classes. There are 13 teachers who share some of the classes and often teach by subject.  

There are still no qualified teachers in the school but there is a young qualified woman teacher (Kyesu Sharon) who has just moved from Jinja and is in the process of being approved by the school board to start teaching. However, we had a look at some of the exercise books in the school and clearly the teaching is of a good standard. We also met with quite a number of the pupils. 

We also met with Elijah, who was an unregistered teacher when the school opened. He has since gone off to be trained as a registered teacher and was teaching in a school out of the district.  He is, however, hoping to return to teach in this school.

Unfortunately, due to the disharmony with the principal, the school inspector has noted that the quality of education was dropping. He was there on 18 July to assist in the compulsory registration (for identification purposes) of all pupils 5 years old and above. The government is implementing this and children who are not registered do not get educational resources. About 70% of the children have uniforms and there are 260 children in the school.

The school buildings remain very basic, although further mud and wood structures have been erected. 

Foundations for Farming

Because of the extremely difficult growing season FfF has not been successfully taken up here. I did get the chance to speak with David, who was one of the people trained at Busia three years ago.  He is still doing FfF principles and is growing fruit trees, sorghum, millet and sesame (simsim).  During the period of drought he continued to water his garden and utilised mulching to assist in moisture retention. He harvested a crop, but very limited.

Rice Growing

We reported on this last year. The rice did grow, was harvested and sold but unfortunately it seems that all of the money was pocketed by the principal of the school and it has not had any benefit to the school at this stage.  

The rice growing is, however, continuing and rice has been replanted both on the women’s plot and on the one acre which has been set aside for the school. There is definitely potential here and we will be able to look at the outcomes from this in the near future.

Ngenge Prison

different atmosphereWe had the opportunity of visiting the prison farm. This is a very small part of the ministry which is supported through CFC-CCM. James gave us a report on this earlier this year which was very encouraging. We first met with Louis, who is the officer in charge of the prison, and some of the prison officers. Unusually, this is a prison where the officers are unarmed and there are no prison fences.

We found the atmosphere in the prison to be quite remarkable. We got to meet about 60 of the inmates, all of whom were nearing the end of their sentences. The nature of this prison is that it is the last prison that they would go to before release with most being scheduled for release within the next 2-3 years. Many are in prison for very serious crimes.

The prison has recently seen a large number of conversions and of the 60 people who met with us approximately 40 would be Christian, with 20 being in the middle ground or Muslim.

Louis indicated, and we could clearly see it too, that the presence of some very committed Christians among the prisoners (and also in the prison staff) has created a calming influence on the prisoners. He indicated that it was not uncommon for the prisoners to want to pray for the guards and for him himself.

We understand that Louis wants James to erect a small chapel on the prison site. This isn't something that BHW would financially support but we think that James will find a way to make this happen within the constraints of funding through his church network. It is clear that the prison ministry is something which is quite close to his heart, and is yielding good results.   

 

Current Issues and Challenges

Apart from the issue mentioned above involving the Principal, another issue they are currently facing is the requirement which is coming from the Ministry of Education that all teachers in a school be fully qualified. This is extremely difficult in an area like Kween where it is hard to recruit qualified teachers into extremely rural areas. So far James has recruited one teacher from Jinja and is presently looking at others. Because the school is currently a community school and there is no government school in the near vicinity, the situation is tolerated at present.  However this is likely to change quite rapidly in the near future.

The other difficulty which the school is facing is the influx of people from Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda due to the drought. There have been significant numbers of Turkana, Hema, Pokot and Karamoja people coming to the district. They are also wanting to put their children into the school. 

 

Comments

James and Gorret are in Kween once or twice a month and it is their ongoing commitment to this area which gives us confidence to continue. They have enough confidence in this area to have built their own permanent house there (in modern materials) which is also occupied by one or more teachers. 

We think the budget needs to remain the same here currently and do not see any need to increase it. At the same time we cannot see that it is likely the need will diminish in the immediate future. There is potential for the rice growing project to start to support the school and we will look for this to happen over the next year or two, provided it is properly managed. At best, however, we would hope that this would provide some income to enable the school to be better resourced in the area of textbooks etc. as those resources are very limited. It is unlikely that the profit from the rice growing is going to be significant enough to enable a reduction in the budget in the foreseeable future.