In November, 2016, Susan and Charlie Roscoe, along with SFR supporters Bill Allen and Dick Forte visited St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary Community School in the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda. One purpose of the meeting was to celebrate with the community the completion of primary school for 25 students, and the completion of four years of secondary school for 11 St. Bakhita graduates who earned SFR scholarships for their four years.
Leaders of the school community, PTA and representatives of the graduates thanked SFR and its supporters for providing the resources and leadership for the past 6 years without which these achievements would not have been possible.
The Community school has enrollment and a self imposed limit of 720 students. Of those, 240 are in the only nursery school in the settlement of 60,000 refugees, and the primary school is one of three community schools. Government schools provide primary education for the majority of students in the settlement. Government schools have up to 200 students in a classroom with one government employee teacher. Unfortunately demand for community and private schools is not being met. The unique relationship between SFR and the St. Bakhita community lead to the best school in the settlement.
The St. Bakhita School students and the students of the Harrison Middle School(HMS) n Yarmouth, Maine continue to exchange pen pal letters. Twice a year, students and teachers in each school look forward to reading the letters, and writing responses. In addition, students at HMS collected over 600 slightly used logo tee shirts which were given to the St. Bakhita students during the November trip. One now will see fans of the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, Yankees and Patriots around the schoolyard!
We look forward to the next trip in March 2017, and invite all supporters to come along and share the wonderful experiences.
PTA Goals and Objectives-2017
The Parent Teacher Association of the St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary community school is responsible for the operation of the school. They work with UNHCR, various NGO’s, the school administration and Charlie and Susan Roscoe (Schools For Refugees) to assure the best possible education and facilities for the students.
For 2017, the PTA will charge each student $7 per term to support their program. The PTA deems this amount an affordable tuition based on the limited resources of student’s families. Those funds will be used to supplement teacher salaries, hire a bursar and second campus guard, provide lunch and/or snacks for students and teachers, provide fire wood for cooking, pay sports fees and travel costs, provide extra examinations, pay for district fees and head teacher participation, provide travel for music, dance and drama events, building maintenance and upgrade, and other projects.
The PTA is leading the process of registering the community school for the first time, with the Uganda Ministry of Sport and Education. The head teacher is completing dozens of forms for a package to be submitted and from will questions will be asked and requirements will most likely be imposed for correction before the registration is approved. Once registered, The status of the school is improved, and student exam results will be published with all other registered schools in the country. We are confident this comparison will show the accomplishment of the St. Bakhita teachers and students.
The third and final term of the 2016 school year started in October. The students took final exams for term two in September, and except for the students in P-7 (seventh grade) enjoyed term break and helping their families harvest their family gardens. The 25 students in P-7 attend classes through the term break, as well as on weekends throughout the school year. The teachers and students believe that they need all available time to prepare for the final exam and the exam to qualify for secondary school, sat for in November.
In early April, Susan and I had a very productive visit to the school. Term one at St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School for 2016 started in mid February. The 17 teachers and 720 students are fully engaged in meeting the challenges of the new year. SFR continues to provide 32 full scholarships to graduates of St. Bakhita School who are enrolled at Panyadoli Secondary School.
The Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement now has over 60,000 registered refugees, up from approximately 3,000 when SFR assumed support of the school in 2011. Large trucks under contract from the United Nations are transporting food to feed most of the refugees, and causing severe breakdown of the dirt roads into the settlement. With many more non-governmental organizations providing services, there is a constant flow of vehicles past the entrance to the school, where a few years ago, bicycles and motor cycles were all that were seen. St Bakhita Nursery and Primary School continues to be the only private school in the refugee settlement, and is the school of choice for students. Limiting enrollment continues to be a challenge for the PTA and school administration.
With all the new mud huts being built, there is now a shortage of straw to make the roofs. Metal roofs are now becoming cost effective, so the traditional round huts are being replaced by rectangular brick huts with metal roofs.
Classroom building walls have been finished and painted, inside and out. Classrooms are now all handicapped accessible. Ever-dusty clay floors have been leveled and paved with concrete. The installation of a security fence around the ten acre campus has been completed, except for the entry gate. The added security will allow for solar panels and other infrastructure which could not be protected in the open campus.
The near-term unfunded major project is selecting and installing solar panels which will provide power for classroom lighting and computers. We hope to identify, then partner with other philanthropic organizations to introduce computer based learning.
Please stay tuned for updates on happenings at St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School.