Meetings, meetings, meetings...
Our day began early leaving the hotel about 7:45 a.m. to meet with the Minister of Education, Mulindwa Ismael. We were welcomed enthusiastically and enjoyed a productive meeting. Edward Ssebukyu, deputy commissioner for private schools and institutions, joined the meeting. Both men were warm and helpful in our discussions of the Muko High School project. We learned that the new curriculum will probably not be implemented until 2020, costing 55.5 million US dollars. The government is emphasizing subject matter versus learning areas, so, for example, rather than a general learning area encompassing biology, chemistry, and physics, each subject will again be presented separately. There will also be a new emphasis on problem-solving and critical-thinking so that students have a more practical education. We were given several examples of other outside countries or organizations running a school. Mr. Ssebukyu agreed to set us up with a visitation to one of those schools on August 9th as we prepare to return from Uganda.
We returned to the hotel in the late morning where the team caught up on emails and debriefing the first meeting. Sue, Generous, and Diana spent some time planning handcrafts to bring back to the USA. Just before noon Dave, Karen, and Diana went shopping for a computer for the new library at the Muko Empowerment Centre. The library there will be largely internet based- everyone is excited about its development- largely thanks to the Circle of Blessings. We also went to a grocery store to purchase peanut butter, ketchup, and hot sauce to enhance our meals.
Speaking of meals, lunches usually consist of a cup of soup, trail mix, peanuts, or other snacks. The team is still feeling the effects of jet lag so a few of us timed a short nap so that the afternoon rest would not affect the overnight sleep.
At 4:30 p.m., Muwonge Kewaza, an Education consultant that Generous works with in her role with a management school committee for a government school. Muwonge Kewaza has a vast background in Education, including being a Commissioner in the Ministry of Education for Primary Schools. He has multiple degrees in Education and works in standardizing testing for the country. We learned about the three types of schools, 1) Government 2) Private but subsidized by government funds 3) Private and unsubsidized by the government. We invited Muwonge to stay for dinner with us and had the opportunity to learn more from him over Chef Francis' vegetable curry, a roasted fish, Irish potatoes, pineapple and watermelon.
At 6:30 p.m., we went to the St. Stephens primary school which is run by Charles and Joseline, friends of Generous', as a business for the St. Stephens Anglican Church. There were many similarities between our Muko High School project and their situation. They kindly sat with us for almost three hours and answered many of our basic questions. We talked about how a child might be dismissed or "chased" out of school if their school fees are unpaid. We learned that they have to plan for an approximate 20% bad debt. At the same time, they fund 50 out of 350 destitute students who go to their school for free. Charles described his job as Director and promised us a job description for their Headmaster. Charles offered a moving prayer that was very encouraging and tear-jerking for several of us. It made us feel that what ACT is doing is making a difference.
Interesting story - during this last meeting a HUGE bug was flying around, first over Sue's head and then around Karen's feet. Diana interrupted the meeting by saying "Step on it, Karen! " CRRRUNCH! Her foot did not move for about a half hour to be sure of its demise!
Sending love to you all- more tomorrow!