During the first two weeks of July, Marina McKeown, P1/2 teacher in Armoy Primary School and her classroom assistant, Suzanne Reynolds had the amazing opportunity to travel to Uganda.
This was through British Council and the charity Fields of Life. During their stay the duo worked with the staff and children from their partner school, Truth Primary in Lira, Northern Uganda.
Marina explained: “We were based in Truth which was set up by Fields of Life. It has approximately 500 children. The school is separated into two parts - Nursery and then Primary 1-7. The children start at three-years-old in Baby Class. After they leave Truth PS, if they have passed their exams, they go to Dara Christian High School, also run by Fields of Life.
“We stayed about two miles from the school with Rachel who is a Director on the Board at the school. On the way to school every morning we could see the children coming out of their mud huts with smiles on their faces looking forward to school even though this involved quite a walk for some of them. Some families had the luxury of a moped and on many occasions we saw a parent with three or four children piled on and not a helmet in sight!
“Not all girls had the opportunity to go to school as they had to stay at home and help with household chores and look after younger siblings. It is also quite expensive, so not all families can afford to benefit from education.”
For the first few days Marina and Suzanne were observing how the school runs.
Marina explained: “School starts at 8am to 4pm. There is a break at 10.30am when the children receive porridge provided by the school. For lunch at 1pm they have ‘posha’ and beans which is similar to porridge. Even though they were receiving this every day they never complained and every plate was clean. The teaching in Uganda is generally very traditional with practically no resources. We had the opportunity to teach in different classes and to introduce them to group work with the resources we had taken out with us, which were left with the school.
“Since our visit the school has been communicating by email and post. We held a well-supported Pudding Party in September and raised £450 which will go towards resources for Truth PS. Thank you to everyone who provided puddings, came along and those who gave donations. We appreciate your support.”