Humanist Schools defy expectations at A-level

Lifted high by fellow students

The pictures show Mustard Seed School’s star student, Joan Mukisa, being congratulated for her outstanding A-level performance when the results, two Bs and a C, were released last week.

Joan, or Joanex as she prefers to be known, stood out as an exceptional student when she joined the school.  She is a single orphan, who has been supported on a UHST scholarship throughout her secondary schooling. When her father died, her mother, a market trader, was left to bring up Joan with her 2 brothers and 3 sisters. Their home is near Iganga, 2 hour’s drive from the school, so she has lived in the boarding hostel. In Senior 3 Joan set her sights on becoming a lawyer, so she could fight injustice. Joan has always displayed considerable leadership and communication skills. She chaired the school Disciplinary Committee and brought considerable acclaim to the school as the scout troop leader. She took them to triumph in Jamborees at District and National Level, and gained third position in the East African Scouting Competitions in Rwanda. She was prominent in the debating society, which should be good training if she achieves her ambition to be a lawyer. In March 2016 Joan gained a division 1 grade in her National School Certificate (O-level) exams, and in the sixth form she has studied History, Economics, Divinity, Subsidiary Mathematics and General Studies and served the school as Head Prefect. She is a delightful girl who has been a role model throughout her schooling. We all expect great things of her as she moves on next to a place in a good university.

Mustard Seed entered 25 students for A-levels in 2017 and every one of them obtained the minimum pass grades. The three lowest achieving students gained two A-levels at Grade D level. The majority of students gained averages of C/D

Congratulations from History and Head teachers

grades with a few grade Bs.

Isaac Newton High School’s A-level results are also remarkable for a rural school in a poor area, where almost all children are first generation educated. While the school gained few very high grades, almost all students gained the matriculation (minimum for university entry) requirement of 2 A-levels and there were many students who achieve C and D grades. This may seem modest, but Uganda has recently stiffened its standards and only the exceptional few students are awarded A and B grades. In National terms out of 2600 A-level centres, Isaac Newton came 124th. The school was 40th in terms of lowest proportion of outright failures. It had the 3rd best results in Agriculture, and they were 113th in science performance (this seems surprising given the relatively low absolute grades in science). However, it is important to note that A-level grades in Uganda are criterion referenced rather than norm referenced. The U.K., which is norm referenced, allows roughly the same number of A, B, C grades – even when the actual standards in the exam fall. Whereas in Uganda they have national descriptors for the characteristics of A, B , C scripts and if no students reach that level then they award no A grades at all – and this has been the position for the last 3 years. A hard exam begets low grades. So getting all students through with C, D, E can put a school high up the league tables.

What is really great, is the position measured on a value added basis – the average percentage rise in the grades of individual students from O level to A level. On this statistic, Isaac Newton came 21st out of 2600 Centres. This shows just how effective the school is at raising achievement from O to A level of relatively poorly performing students at the earlier stage. Their value added from primary leaving is even more remarkable.

The Humanist Schools have defied expectations by matching and surpassing the A-level results of many more established schools. Both Mustard Seed and Isaac Newton Schools are in impoverished rural areas and, for most of their existence, they have had to get by with whatever casual and part-time teachers they could get to cover the secondary curriculum. After 12 years of operation, educational and welfare standards have improved and student numbers have risen from less than 100 to over 500 students. Furthermore, for the past two years they have increased the pay of teachers (though still below most other schools), given full and part time teachers contracts and enrolled them in the National Social Security

Scheme. Despite these improvement in conditions, the schools still rely on young, newly-trained and less-well qualified teachers. However, they make up for this by fostering a sense of belonging and commitment to the school, the community and

Local press at goat presentation

the students. Staff turnover is still a problem but has reduced hugely. Efforts to bring the teachers together to learn from each other through the Humanist Ethos Project and other initiatives has also played its part. UHST has also played a part in the improvement by flooding books, computers and other resources into the schools and supplementing the pay of teachers and directors through a salary bonus scheme funded using donations from our loyal supporters, many of whom have stuck with us through the early years of trials and tribulations. It goes without saying, that everyone involved with UHST is delighted with the schools’ outstanding progress.

 

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Excellent O-level results at Isaac Newton

Newspaper showing high ranking among all Uganda Schools

The Uganda Certificate of Education (O-level) results were released last week. Isaac Newton High School had their best results ever – a huge leap in performance on last year.

50 candidates were entered for the exams. There are 9 grades overall and Isaac Newton’s results were stellar:

  • 13 (26%) gained Grade 1
  • 23 (46%) gained Grade 2
  • 13 (26%) gained Grade 3

Isaac Newton High School was ranked 181st countrywide out of 3620 schools that presented candidates. In science subjects they did even better, being ranked 45th out of all the schools in Uganda.

In their home district of Kalungu Isaac Newton was the 5th highest of all the schools in the district.

O-level in Uganda is like the old Matriculation in the UK, which preceded O-levels. The overall grade is based on performance in 7 subjects. For a grade 1 students must have an aggregate below 32 across 7 subjects. However, if students gain less than a grade 5 in English Language they are prevented from being awarded a grade 1 overall. Fewer than 7% of students in the whole of Uganda gain a Grade 1 grade – so the students that do are rather special.
According to Peter Kisirinya, the school’s Director, “The failure of quite a number of students to achieve a grade 5 in English Language destroyed some of the 1st grades, and otherwise excellent students received 2nd grades.”
English has been a problem for these students. Although all lessons are in English, they come from an impoverished rural area where they speak Luganda at home and among themselves. UHST has made a concerted effort with the school to raise attainment in English. We are trying to flood the school with books. In 2016 we started a Reading for Pleasure Programme and each of our schools nominated a Reading Coordinator. We bought many general reading books and ran a very successful Reading for Pleasure Competition in June and July 2017. However, as Peter says, the children need even more English story books, but they need to include many stories that are set in an African (or Caribbean) setting that students can relate to their own daily lives. The school shows the students Films in English from DVDs at the weekends. These greatly improve English listening comprehension.

Ellen

This years results will be life transforming for most of these students. Many of the students are the first to be educated in their families. Most will now be able to go on with their studies, in academic and vocational fields. They will gain good jobs in the

Robert

formal sector of the economy and the money they earn will help to transform the lives of their families. In Uganda there is a strong sense of responsibility to the family and children who do well send money home, even when they now have good jobs in the towns.

One such student is Ellen. She was the second best student in school and passed all 10 subjects and was awarded an overall grade 1. Her best subjects were History, Geography and Agriculture. She is 15 years old and has received a scholarship from a UHST supporter throughout her schooling. Her parents died and she lives with her aunt who has a restaurant. She has 2 brothers and 1 sister. Ellen is now well on the way to achieving her dream of becoming a nurse. Though with these outstanding results she may want to raise her sights towards becoming a doctor.

The best performing student in the school was Robert Semagula. Robert joined the school on a scholarship after completing his primary leaving certificate at Kasese Humanist Primary School. He has had a Humanist education throughout his schooling. Robert was entered for and passed in 10 subjects. He gained an excellent aggregate mark and was awarded an overall a grade 1. His best subjects were Maths, Computer Studies and History. Robert is 16 years old and comes from Kasese District in Western Uganda. His parents are both alive, but very poor, and he has 2 brothers and 3 sisters. He lives with his aunt in the holidays. She makes a living by selling coffee beans grown on her plot of land. Robert’s wish since joining the school has been to become a doctor. With excellent performance in science and plans to study Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology at A-level, he is well on his way to achieving his ambition. This will be another life completely transformed by education.

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Josh Kutchinsky dancing

Here is Josh dancing at the Humanist School in Uganda:

Happy memories

Steve Hurd

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Sad loss of Josh Kutchinsky

Josh with Humanist colleagues in Uganda

It is with great sadness that we heard today of the death of our dear friend Josh Kutchinsky. It is a huge loss to us all.

Josh played an extremely valuable role as a founding Trustee of Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, where he represented the British Humanist Association. We were together in Uganda in 2008 for the IHEU East African Humanist Convention. He spoke with passion and thoroughly enjoyed visiting, with his wife Ginnette Ashkenazy, the Humanist Schools in Uganda. I remember with some hilarity his extravagant dancing to accompany the student singers and dancers at one of the schools (wish I could find the video!?).

I helped Josh and Ginnette to plan a memorable safari tour of the Uganda National Parks, which was gruelling, given the poor roads at that time, but they found it life enhancing. I recall Ginnette recounting an encounter with a hippo as she tried to make her way from her tent to the toilet block near Lake Mburo.

Josh embraced social networks and set up and ran the Hummay platform for many years. Through Hummay, Josh provided a way for Humanists across the world to network, and gave those, particularly in Africa, a voice on the world stage.

Josh had an acute sense of fairness and social justice and this motivated everything he did. He had a house in France and was a committed European, fighting to the very end the folly of Brexit. Ginette was the love of his life and I know he supported her hugely in writing her very moving autobiography and in her wonderful artistic career, both of which were a great source of pride to him.

Josh will be sorely missed. He will be remembered fondly by us all for his profound humanity.

Steve Hurd

Chair

Uganda Humanist Schools Trust

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St Louis Ethical Society Podcast

Here is the latest podcast be Kate Lovelady, leader of St Louis Ethical Society, which has raised substantial funds to support the Humanist Schools in Uganda.

The podcast of Kate’s annual appeal of 2017 to support the Uganda Schools is at <https://ethicalstl.org/category/podcast/>, specifically on December 3, entitled:

What wonders we can achieve together

Much of the material for the address is taken on the UHST website, and this year several photos from the UHST website were included. The address is always given on the first Sunday of December and is followed by our “First Sunday Lunch” which in this case is a “typical Uganda school lunch,” created from recipes we’ve found online. Fee for the lunch is “donation only,” and those donations together with commitments from several members to support a partial or entire scholarship on their own constitute our fundraising effort for the year

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Positive Report from Mustard Seed School Director

One of two new water tanks inked to the high pressure water main

The latest Annual Report by Moses Kamya, the Mustard Seed School’s Director, outlines substantial progress during 2017.

At last the school’s long-standing water shortage is within sight of relief following the completion of a new high pressure water pipe from a new pumping station on the River Nile. By providing additional unplanned money three-quarters of a kilometer of the underground pipe is being moved out of the way of a new road construction project. It is hoped that the water authority will begin pumping water by the start of the new school year in February.

The completion of a new 4-classroom block will also allow the school to halve class sizes by running two parallel classes in each year. The full report can be downloaded from the blog on the UHST website: http://www.ugandahumanistschoolstrust.org/2017/12/positive-report-from-mustard-seed-school-director/.

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Help UHST through Give as You Live

To UHST Supporters

I have signed UHST up for the Give as you Live program. Once registered individuals can link to thousands of shopping sites, including the likes of Amazon, John Lewis and the supermarkets, and a proportion (0.5 to 1%) of what you spend is paid by the shop to UHST.

If a significant number of our supporters sign up it could boost our income by several thousands a year (new people can also donate directly through the system).

If you would like to sign up this is how:

1. Go to our website: http://www.ugandahumanistschoolstrust.org/give-as-you-live/ and click the link to register for Give as you Live.
2. Give as you Live send you an email with access to an ipad app or a browser link to enable you to go the the Give as you Live portal to choose where you want to shop.
3. Remembering to get to your chosen shop via the Give as you Live link is the challenge when you have been used to going straight there. But most of the online shops commonly used are available through the Give as you Live link.
4. You will receive regular emails saying how much you have raised for UHST and saying how you can raise more money for us, but you don’t have to read them all.

Fruitful shopping!?

Steve

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Climate Change Hits Uganda Schools

The Humanist Schools in Uganda have faced acute water shortage. Increases in student numbers have put pressure on the limited water resources and the situation has been exacerbated by changes in climatic conditions. Since 1991 the mean annual temperature in Uganda has risen by 1.5°C (see graph). The additional energy in the atmosphere has caused greater variability in weather systems, which has increased the ferocity of rainstorms and given rise to previously unknown periods of drought. Rainfall unpredictability makes it difficult for farmers to time the planting of crops and the onset of unexpected droughts causes almost mature crops to wither on the stem. This has provoked food shortages and further north and east in Uganda there have been periodic famines. Just over a year ago crops failed around the Mustard Seed School, and some people died of starvation.

Climate change has directly affected the schools:
1. Poor harvests have meant that parents of children in the schools have had less surplus food to sell to raise money for school fees, so school fee income has fallen.
2. The shortage of food has forced up market prices. This has raised the costs of students’ meals and put pressure on school budgets. In recent years food costs have risen at twice the rate of prices in general.
3. More people have been drawing water from wells, which has led to a progressive lowering of the water table. At Mustard Seed School the main borehole, that UHST paid to have drilled in the school compound, has been pumped dry.
All of this has come at a time when student numbers in the Humanist Schools has been growing, as parents have been attracted by the higher standards of education and welfare being offered in the schools we support.

For the past few years the schools have had no alternative but to turn to UHST for help. We have provided emergency funds to buy food immediately after harvests, when it is available and cheaper. When harvests have failed and local fee income has dropped, we have needed to provide supplementary funds to meet day-to-day running costs. When local parents have been unable to pay the fees for children entering for national examinations, we have stepped in to cover the shortfall. When the first borehole ran dry at Mustard Seed School UHST paid for a new borehole to be sunk near a swamp over half a mile from the school. Since then, students have operated a water rota, taking time out of lessons to fetch water needed for washing, drinking, food preparation and cleaning.

Despite these measures, water supply problems have continued to disrupt education in the Humanist schools. When we visited the schools earlier this year, it was clear that steps had to be taken to alleviate the situation. After visiting the regional water company, near Mustard Seed School, we have been able to arrange for the school to be connected to piped water coming from a pumping station on the Rive Nile. This has involved running a pipe to the school 1.5km from the main supply pipe to Kamuli Town. The water will be pumped under pressure to two high-level water tanks – one on each school site. The project, which cost almost £6,000, is now complete. Moses Kamya, the Mustard Seed School Director, has written that:

The Water Company has finished laying pipes and putting the tanks on towers. Taps are in place around the school and we are only waiting for the pumping station to be brought into operation. The children are eager to use tap water in showers and for washing clothes without the hassle of travelling to the borehole. The cooks are eager too since they fetch water continually for kitchen use. It will now be on their doorstep. We are very grateful to UHST for this timely innovation, which will transform day-to-day conditions in the school.

At Isaac Newton High School the has been an urgent need to capture and store more water on the school site, in order to supplement the water being pumped from the valley below. UHST has given the school £4,000 to construct an underground storage tank, which will take rain water from the roofs of the new girls’ hostel and the about-to-be-built 4-classroom block. This large reserve will offer some security during periods of drought. Unfortunately, due to its remote rural location, there is no prospect of mains water being brought to the school, so it has to cater for its own needs and those of the immediate village. Peter Kisirinya, the Director of Isaac Newton School, made the following comments:

The water project is on-going with the walls ready and waiting for the top slab to be fitted in one week, after a months provision for setting of the columns and walls. We will have 98,000 litres of harvested water from the three buildings and this will be rain water with minimum contamination to be used for the girls community to wash using less soap – the underground water we use at present has some hardness so it takes some more soap. The girls will have the water in their courtyard and this will help them a great deal. We have had problems with storm runoff but this will reduce since all the water from the roof will be captured. In case of breakdown of the main water supply we shall have water available for preparing the meals.

We are very grateful to UHST supporters who have made possible these essential improvements to water provision in the schools, which will have a big effect on student welfare. Unfortunately, neither scheme will alleviate the fundamental impact of long-term climate change on the schools’ host communities.

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International Friendship Visit to Mustard Seed School

We have just returned from a wonderful few days at Mustard Seed School. Five international visitors joined us and we took part in a variety of hugely enjoyable activities with students and staff.
Flowerbeds had sprung up throughout the site since our last visit, which made the site attractive and welcoming.
Good results have brought a huge increase in enrolment in the school and this has put pressure on teaching facilities. Fortunately, a new block of 4 classrooms, funded by UHST supporters, is nearing completion. This will allow the school to split into two the currently large classes of almost 100 students. This will ease pressure on teachers and create a better learning environment for students.
The lack of water has become a serious welfare issue and, it is clear that reliance on a single hand-pump is not sustainable. During our visit we were able to talk with the local water authority and have worked out a plan to bring water through a high pressure main into the school. This will cost £5,600 but should solve the water problem for good and all. A full report of our visit can be downloaded from the following link:
Report on Visit to Mustard Seed School June 2017 
For Glenda Miller, a new UHST Trustee, it was her first visit to the schools in Uganda and, indeed, her first visit to Africa. She made the following remarks on her return to the UK:
“The Humanist Schools in Uganda have benefited hugely from being led by charismatic individuals with the energy and vision of Moses Kamya and Peter Kisirinya, as well as from the substantial material resources raised by the supporters of UHST. It wasn’t until we visited other Ugandan schools that I was made conscious of how far and how fast our schools had travelled and what a wonderful opportunity the children attending them have been given. The children show their appreciation by the energy and application they put into their studies and all aspects of school life. The children’s enthusiasm in the Humanist schools is infectious and their happiness rings out. The good environment, equipment, textbooks, good quality teaching and high standards of welfare play their part in propelling them into becoming the schools of choice in their districts.”
If you would like to help support the schools you can download a donation form and standing order form below:
Donation Form                   Standing Order Form

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International Friendship Visit to Isaac Newton High School

We have just returned from a truly wonderful visit to both Humanist schools in Uganda. Our party consisted of 3 UHST trustees, Steve and Hilary Hurd and Glenda Miller; Renate Bauer, Chair of the German Humanist organisation; and Peter Furness, Chair of Humanist Aid, Australia.

Attached below is my report on our visit to Isaac Newton High School.

We feel the school is really motoring. There was a very positive and happy atmosphere among students and staff. The site is looking good and the school is really beginning to develop a distinctly Humanist Ethos.

It is under pressure from growing numbers of students, attracted by the school’s improving performance and reputation. Classes are up to 100 in the lower school, which threatens standards.

The top priority is to raise an additional £10,000 so we can fund the construction of a second set of 4 classrooms. This will allow the school to run two classes of 50 in each year.

Undoubtedly the most satisfying visit we have made to the school, and a testament to the ongoing commitment from supporters to our charity and the schools over the past 9 years.

Thank you

Steve

PS I attach a donor form in case you would like to help us raise the money for the new classrooms or provide a much needed additional boarding scholarship to allow an additional child to attend what is becoming a fine school. I also attach a standing order form in case you would like to set up regular payments for a scholarship (£12.50 or £25 a month for a boarding scholarship).

Report on Visit to Isaac Newton High School July 2017

Donation Form

Standing Order Form

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UHST sponsored students are thriving

We have just returned from a visit to all the schools supported by Uganda Humanist School Trust and were delighted to meet the students that supporters are sponsoring at Mustard Seed Secondary School, Busota and Isaac Newton High School, Masaka.

It was a particular pleasure to meet Senior 1 sponsored students for the first time and learn about their family backgrounds.

Typical of our new sponsored students are Miriam and Timothy who attend Isaac Newton Secondary School. Miriam is 13 and has three siblings. Miriam’s father died and her mother earns a very small income selling basic goods in a village kiosk, but this is not enough to pay school fees. Miriam got the top grade in her Primary Leaving Exam and aspires to be a surgeon. She likes reading novels and is in the school choir.

Timothy is 14 and has 3 siblings. His family are subsistence farmers and have had a particularly difficult time as last year’s drought caused the harvest to fail and they had no other source of cash income. Timothy is the class monitor and likes playing football. On Sundays, he washes his clothes and revises his lessons. He got a very high mark in his Primary Leaving Exam and wants to be a doctor.

All the students we support are boarders and the girls are delighted with the new hostel that has just been built at Isaac Newton. Boarding keeps the students in a safe environment and provides them with three meals a day and study facilities in the evening and at weekends. Most come from extremely poor homes with no running water or electricity. The picture shows the home of one of our students attending Mustard Seed School.

Brian and Flavia are typical of the sponsored students at Mustard Seed, which is in a particularly impoverished rural area. Here too the harvest failed last year through lack of rain. All the sponsored students gained a first grade in their Primary Leaving Exam.

Brian is an orphan, his parents died in an accident. He and his seven siblings are cared for by their grandmother who has a small plot where she grows food for the family. There is no spare money for school fees. Brian is the class captain and is in the football team. He likes science subjects best and would also like to be a doctor.

Flavia’s parents are alive and manage to feed their eight children by growing rice and maize and rearing goats. She is the school time keeper and likes to read books. She is in the music, dance and drama group and helps to clean the compound at the weekend.

Despite their challenging background all our sponsored students are happy and healthy and are always smiling and laughing. They study extremely hard and have very high aspirations. They all expressed their gratitude to their sponsors for the chance they have been given to have a Secondary Education.

Additional sponsors needed

We urgently need additional sponsors so that we can offer scholarships to bright, needy students again next year. A full scholarship covers tuition fees, a place in the school hostel, food and school uniform. It costs £300 per year and can be paid in monthly instalments of £25. Some sponsors pay £150 per year, in which case two people provide for one student.

Scholarships are allocated at the beginning of the school year, in February. Sponsors are sent a photo and some background details of their student and at the end of each year they are sent their exam results. Ideally sponsors agree to support a student for 4 years and sometimes 6 years if they return to take “A” levels.

If you are interested in helping by sponsoring a student, application forms are available at http://www.ugandahumanistschoolstrust.org/donate/scholarships/ or, for more information contact scholarships@uhst.org or call Professor Hilary Hurd on 01782 750338.

By sponsoring a student you can totally transform the life chances of an underprivileged child.

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Research by Isaac Newton students to increase local crop yields

Isaac Newton High School is a product of the local community, which has nurtured the school throughout the first 10 years of its development. The school is now determined to do what it can to help the community it serves. A month or so ago it formed the Isaac Newton Community Development Association to help local farmers to raise their productivity. The school has started to buy fertilisers and seeds in bulk and provide them at cost to local farmers.

In its latest development, it is adapting the curriculum itself to the needs of the local community. A-level Agriculture students, who work on the school land to grow crops to supplement school meals, are undertaking a very practical piece of research to help local farmers by finding the optimum way to use inorganic fertilisers. Notably, they are trying to find the best levels of use of the most common inorganic fertiliser used in Uganda, DiAmmonium Phosphate (DAP).

The schools arranged for its farm land to be tilled using a tractor and then engaged the students in carrying out the planting and weeding. The A-level Agriculture class has begun a research project, using the bean garden, on the effect of artificial and natural fertilizers on the yield of beans. The garden has been divided into eight equal areas as follows

  1. An area where no fertilizer was applied
  2. An area where DAP (artificial fertilizer) was top dressed
  3. An area where farmyard (natural grren manure) was top dressed
  4. An area where DAP was buried under ground
  5. An area where farmyard manure was buried under ground
  6. An area where both manure and DAP were top dressed
  7. An area where both manure and DAP were buried under ground
  8. An area where both manure and DAP were cast and then tilled before planting

On harvesting the weight of beans from each area will be noted and the results will be presented to the local community group, who will decide how to adapt their practices in the light of the findings.

This Humanist School is leading the way in giving its students a sense of responsibility for the community which has nurtured them. Such activities boost the genuine sense of pride which local families feel in Isaac Newton High School, which they cherish as their own.

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Growing sporting excellence at Mustard Seed School

Since the playing field was completed at the Mustard Seed School, there has been a large increase in opportunities for both boys and girls to play sports. Football is popular and there are both boys’ and girls’ teams. Athletics is also becming a regular feature of co-curricular activities.

Moses Kamya, the school’s Director, says:

Mustard Seed School Busota lays  emphasis not just on students’ academic progress but also on co-curricular needs as well. Sports and games are considered an avenue for students physical growth, confidence and provides very good publicity for the school when teams do well in local competitions.

Boys recovering after regional semi-final

 

Coca-cola cup won in 2016

Last year the boys’ football team took the Kamuli District coca-cola post primary trophy. They were one of the two teams chosen to represented Kamuli District in the regional football finals, where they reached the quarter finals. This year the boys football team defended  their trophy in the annual coca cola post primary football competitions in kamuli district. They reached the semi finals. Unfortunately, there was unprecedented violence between children of two schools competing in the other semi-final so the final was called off. However, we have been chosen with another school to represent Kamuli District in the coming regional tournament on 13th April 2017 at Bukoyo High School in Iganga district.

The girls football team also participated in the district competitions, where they reached the quarter finals. The school is now regarded as being among the top schools in the district, due to growing excellence in both academic and

games and sports activities.

Girls team in regional quarter-final 2017

We are very grateful to UHST supporters for funding the purchase and levelling of the land for the playing field.  We also thank all of the school’s supporters for helping us to realise our childrens’ aspirations.”

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Mustard Seed School Expansion Plan

In 2017 there has been a huge increase in the number of parents wishing to enrol their children at Mustard Seed School. Instead of the normal intake of 50 students a year, the school has enrolled twice that number. This follows two years of good O-level results and the first year of outstanding A-level results.

As a result we have been helping the school plan for expansion. We have secured minimum 25 year leases on two large blocks of school land, and leases are pending on the rest of the land. This gives us the confidence to raise funds for a major expansion at the school. We have funded the services of a local surveyor who has drawn up the plan below for future developments around the new playing field.

The aim, over a number of years, is to build a new 4-classroom block, science lab, computer room, a new hall and staff housing.

The immediate priority is to provide additional classrooms, so the school can create two first year classes on the path to becoming a two-stream entry school. The first requirement is to build a security fence around the site. UHST has already sent funds to start this work. Immediately the site is secure we will begin the phased funding of the new 4-classroom block (see plan below).

UHST will need to raise £27,000 for this and we will need all the help we can get. A new toilet block will also need to be built at the same time.

These developments will make a huge difference to the school and set it on the path towards sustainability.

 

 

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A-Level Breakthrough at Mustard Seed

Ugandan A-level results were released on 1st March and students at Mustard Seed School are delighted with their achievements. 15 students out of 16 gained the minimum of 2 A-levels which they require to continue their education at vocational college and university levels. This is a major advance for the school and both students and staff deserve congratulations. (Students taking their A-level subsidiary Computer Studies eaxmination).

This follows the steady improvement in O-level School Certificate results in recent years, which has encouraged more students to stay on at school for A-level study.

Out of 16 students entered for A-levels at the end of 2016, all but one student gained at least two A-levels – the minimum requirement to move on to Higher Education courses. With two A-levels students are eligible for further academic study but also for a variety of vocational courses including: training for nursing and medical ancillary occupations, teaching (especially at primary level), agricultural college and technical training, such as motor vehicle mechanics, plumbers, electricians.

8 students, 4 boys and 4 girls, gained 3 A-levels, which is a huge achievement for a small rural school. This will enable the students to move on to good universities if they can secure funding. Competition for full government scholarships on academic courses is tight and probably none of the students have the grades required for this. Students training as nurses and teachers are usually eligible for state support, but others, who find it a struggle to fund further courses, should be able to find better jobs in the labour market than would have been possible without their qualifications.

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Humanist school’s Community Service Volunteer Programme

Last weekend members of Isaac Newton High School Humanist Association (INHUASSO) – students and teachers – launched a new Community Service Volunteer Program with a sanitation and hygiene drive in the community near the school.

They went to the homes of 8 needy families, 5 of whom have students at Isaac Newton High school on scholarships for bright but needy children. They worked to improve pit latrines which were in very sorry state; many were almost collapsing and others were full to overflowing. Most of the latrines, which had tree logs as the floor, were rotting and cracking and generally found to be in very sorry and dangerous situation as you can see from some pictures. The programme involved constructing new covers on the pit latrines.

The students did some other work around the home, including:

  • constructing platforms for laying utensils after washing,
  • providing bar soap to wash hands after visiting the latrine,
  • providing Jerry cans to contain water for washing hands after latrines,
  • teaching members of the families how to wash hands properly after visiting latrines,
  • clearing grass around the houses to deter snakes.

The volunteers also visited the local primary school to encourage the children to enrol at Isaac Newton School, when they complete their primary schooling.

Some local families were found to comprise very elderly grannies taking care of very young grand children, whose parents had died or gone away for work. The volunteers hope to be able to help families like these and others in future. The volunteering activities will be done on Sundays when the other Christian members of the school attend prayers.

Also, last Sunday, there was a second general meeting of the new Isaac Newton Community Based Organisation. The purpose of this meeting was to share expertise in order to plan for the new planting season. It was agreed to use a room in the reception house near the school gate as a farmers shop, where farm inputs will be bought in bulk from wholesalers and sold to members at cost price. This will reduce substantially the cost of farm inputs, such as fertilisers, seed and stock food, and help to raise productivity on the local farms.

Peter Kisirinya
Director, Isaac Newton High School

 

 

 

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