Elspeth Dugdale | April 30, 2021
" We are pushing on...." - a very appropriate 'Ugandese' phrase to describe 'getting there' / gradually making progress. Last month we wrote extensively about 'The Big Plan' to support WTA through this difficult year. So - 'how is the going?' Time for an update....
As we wrote last month, WTA's biggest challenge has been to get their own students back after a full year of being stuck at home, hence the launch of our fundraising campaign 'Bring Them Back in 2021'. The brief 'progress' update is that we are well on the way to reaching the ambitious target of £45,000. So firstly, a massive thank you to every single person who has donated/pledged/messaged/dropped off envelopes of cash already! The response has been so encouraging. We rarely set up urgent fundraising targets - unless there is a specific need - in this case, the Covid pandemic.
One key remit of ServeDirect is to support our Ugandan partners in the good work they are already doing and to enable them to do an even better job. Our challenge was to liaise with Charles and Benard to find the best way to support from afar. In 2021, this has simply meant helping the school to reopen, be in a position to welcome their existing students back and quickly return to becoming financially independent once more.
Most of this has been done by emailing friends and supporters one by one - as 'old school' as possible, without actually handwriting each letter individually! Needless to say it has been such a real delight to be in contact with so many old friends and team members. Many have shared very fond memories of team trips to Uganda years ago, often commenting on how personally significant it was and, at times, even life-changing.
(photo by Jordan Shepherd)
And, in practice, how does this translate into reality at WTA?
Most significantly, very many students have already returned, due to the subsidised school fees offer. This has entirely been made possible by your 'Bring Them Back' donations. As an example - all the S1 students are now back at WTA plus some extra students have also joined because so many other local private schools had to close down.
Each year group is only allowed back for certain dates according to government guidelines, and so the school is only partially full at any time. It is not entirely straightforward:
S4 & S6 were allowed back first; both groups had a few intensive months of lessons and then took their O' & A' level exams. They have now finished and left.
S1 have just started back and will study until July. In 2020 they only had their first 5 weeks of secondary education, starting a completely new national syllabus, before lockdown started.
S2 will be allowed back from May to July
S3 & S5 arrived back in March and will study until May, followed by a special extra term from June - July, because they are the 'pre-candidate' classes.
In theory, the 2020 academic year finishes in July 2021. The 2021 'academic year' will run from August 2021 - May 2022, which should complete the syllabus learning for 2021.
According to official directives, it looks as if the academic year (which normally runs from February - December) won't 'right itself' until 2024!
Confused? It is a complicated plan in order to allow schools to work in a Covid compliant way, which is certainly challenging in a boarding school context. Charles, Benard and the teams are busy juggling frequently changing ministry guidelines with the normal demands of teaching, school life and exam protocol. Not easy!