Quench and Connect
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St. Joseph's Secondary School was established in 1992 as a school for needy and orphaned children in the Kiboga District, 70 miles outside of Kampala. The secondary school was registered with the Ministry of Education in 2002. The campus is shared with a primary school. Kiboga District in Uganda has one of the highest rates of illiteracy (90%) in the region. The people in the community are farmers with little income. The operating budget of St. Joseph Secondary School is meager since the income of the local population is low, and student fees are set low or are waived so that students from poor families can have access to education. This school is centrally located and serves as a convenient place for children to be educated. It has a health clinic which also serves the local community with health education programs.
The average personal income for citizens of Uganda is now ~ US$2.20/day. In the Kiboga District, which is very poor, family income is less, and thus the fees for students attending St. Joseph Secondary School must be kept low so that students can afford to come for education. Typical costs for tuition, room and board in other regions of Uganda range from US$ 150-300 per year. In poor districts like Kiboga, this means that one year’s fees for a student to attend secondary school can be nearly half the annual income of the family. Thus, at St. Joseph Secondary School, there is a great need for additional income to meet the operational costs of the school and to pay teachers’ salaries.
There are 400 students in the secondary level (with nearly an equal number of students at the primary level), and most of the needy students stay at the school year round. During holidays, these students do farm work at the school in lieu of their fees, including growing crops or raising chickens and pigs. Students also help in the kitchen, and their work reduces costs of labor at the school. The needs of this school include textbooks, classroom furniture, teacher salaries (US$22/month), computers and a photocopier, and sports equipment. The land and infrastructure on campus are quite ample, but funds to meet the costs for day-to-day operating expenses, as well as salaries and living accommodations for teachers are strained.
For drinking water, students walk nearly a mile to water ponds that were originally dug as fish ponds and are now used communally by humans and animals for drinking. The water is contaminated both by animal waste and soap since the ponds are also used for laundry. There are two large water tanks (2500 gallon and 1600 gallon) that are already in place on campus, but lack gutters and pipes to collect rainwater. The smaller tank is located adjacent to the campus health clinic. This school greatly needs a borehole water well (US$9,000) to provide a source of clean drinking water for the students, to reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases.
Mr. David Kabanda is the Program Manager of the school. His is assisted by Ms. Constance Nanyondo, an extremely dedicated Head Teacher, who is tireless in her efforts to provide high quality education to the students. Ms. Nanyondo carries large jerrycans of water on her head alongside the students, to demonstrate her devotion to her students. Mr. Kabanda, is an attorney and a former star student of St. Joseph Secondary School, who gave up his law practice to return to manage the school when it began to decline. His gratitude for the education he received at the school is clearly manifested in his selfless work to bring the school back to optimal operating condition. He has a vision for the future and has recruited new talented faculty, many of them also former student graduates of the school.
One of these new faculty members, Mr. Ronald Lubinga, is an especially talented artist and fine-arts teacher. Despite an inadequate stock of art supplies, Mr. Lubinga’s students produce drawings, pottery, woven materials and silk screen prints that are of outstanding quality. His skills as an art teacher are evident in the beautiful work produced by his students. The art work generated by these students could be sold at a modest cost, as income for the students and the school.
Mr. Kabanda has a plan to incorporate vocational training at the secondary school to provide an option for students who cannot afford or are not suited for secondary university-track education. At a separate campus, he has established the first rudiments of vocational training with classrooms, dormitories and some equipment to teach skills such as cooking, sewing, agriculture, arts and crafts. This training will provide students with skills to find jobs. There is also clear potential that the students’ work in these vocational areas could serve as a means to generate income for the secondary school. For example, items of clothing or crafts items such as baskets, pots or silkscreen cloth made by the students could be sold in town for profit. Mr. Kabanda is exploring several mechanisms to build this vocational campus and increase the output of student-produced products to sustain the academic educational goals at the secondary school.
Another plan that the Program Manager has developed to bring income to the school is to begin fish-farming in the fish ponds that are already on campus. There are 12 large ponds (30 x 50 ft; 5-10 ft deep) that are already filled with water, and serve as the source of drinking water for the students. His plan is to convert the ponds into fish farms, growing tilapia for food for the students, and to sell to local communities. Tilapia from Lake Victoria is the major source of fish in Uganda, but due to lack of refrigeration, people who live in regions that are remote from Lake Victoria, such as the Kiboga District, have no access to fresh fish. It is estimated that it would cost US$10,000 to begin to farm tilapia at the school, enclose the ponds with a perimeter fence for security, refrigerate and transport the fish, and rent a shop in town to sell the fish. The income from this endeavor for the secondary school should be substantial within a short period of time.
St. Joseph's Secondary School