St Louis friends help ease Isaac Newton Hostel crisis

img_2195The growth of student numbers at Isaac Newton High School has placed pressure on accommodation. This has been keenly felt in the Girls’ Hostel. Designed for 96 students, with 6 to a room, the hostel has been accommodating over 140 girls, with bunk beds side-by side from wall to wall. This is not only uncomfortable for the girls, it is dangerous. Overcrowding makes exit more difficult in the event of fire and diseases spread more quickly through the student community. Fungal infections of the skin have beome more common as have upper respiratory infections.

An obvious answer would be to turn students away from the school. However, Isaac Newton is the only secondary school for many miles and the local community has embraced the school as its own. Families, therefore, demand that the school takes their children and senior staff find it hard to say no to them. Furthermore, there is a strong need for boarding accommodation, particularly for girls. We are finding that boarding students perform better in exams than day students. They escape the chores they would be expected to do if they lived at home, digging, housework, fetching water, food preparation and cooking, so they have more time for school work as well as having access to books, computers, lighting at night and desk space to work. Orphan girls, in particular, are protected from the sexual harrassment which they can sometimes experience in the villages.

As a first phase of building work to expand the school, St Louis Ethical Society in the USA has valiantly raised the money to build a second girls’ hostel. The new hostel, whose construction is now well advanced, will relieve pressure on the existing hostel and eliminate overcrowding. Whereas the existing hostel has rooms that are open to the roof space, the new hostel will separate each room off by having a ceiling through the building. With each room being a sealed off space, the girls will suffer less noise disturbance from other rooms. It will also be harder for mosquitoes to carry malaria from an infected child to others throughout the hostel and the spread of other air-borne diseases will also be more difficult.

img_0103Large buildings are costly. The new hostel will cost around £32,000. This covers land clearance and levelling, foundations, construction of walls and roofing, windows and doors, electrical wiring and fittings for lights, plastering and painting plus the construction of an associated toilet block, wash rooms and pipework, drainage and cess pits and preparing pathways and a garden with trees around the building.

UHST and the staff and girls of the school are very grateful to members of St Louis Ethical Society who have raised the entire costs of this project. Their efforts have been led by Ed Schmidt, who has visited the school on a number of occasions, and Kate Lovelady, the leader of the Ethical Society. At a recent meeting of the group Kate showed pictures of the Humanist Schools in Uganda and gave an inspiring address about the history of the Ethical Sociaety’s involvement with UHST and the schools. Below are links to the pictures of the schools, an MP3 file of Kate’s speech and a link to the website of the St Louis Ethical Society.

TITLE: Why us? Why not us?, Kate Lovelady, Leader, 4-Dec-2016 podcast
An update on exciting new developments in our Uganda Humanist Schools Project, and some of the cosmic questions raised when we contemplate the different circumstances of people around the world.
Photos (pdf) to accompany the presentation.
Get the .MP3 file
St Louis Ethical Society Website

UHST  and the school are looking forwarding to welcoming a representative from St Louis Ethical Society to open and name the new girls’ hostel during the next International Friendship Visit to the Humanist Schools in Uganda in early July 2017.

Category: News

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