School Infrastructure

Rationale

Education is a basic human right, fundamental to breaking the cycle of poverty and ensuring sustainable human development. By providing ALL children with quality primary education, governments will give individuals the opportunity and skills to lift themselves out of poverty.

At the time of Soft Power Education’s birth, the Government of Uganda was two years into the implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE), a nation-wide policy to provide tuition-free primary education for all children. In record time, enrolment at government schools soared – from 3.1 million in 1997 to 7.6 million children by 2006.

In 2006, 85% of children between six and 12 were in school. These numbers were evenly spread between boys and girls, and Uganda was highly commended for achieving over 90% of Millennium Development Goal 2 (the precursor to Sustainable Development Goal 4).

Despite this, UPE was facing a number of challenges. Already lacking learning environments became even more insufficient and there was an inadequate number of teachers to meet the demands of the increased enrolment. Although tuition itself was free, many parents could not afford scholastic materials. Initial success in enrolment fell apart amid a very high number of drop outs, with UNESCO estimating that 68% of children in P1 would drop out before finishing the prescribed seven years. Literacy and numeracy levels failed to increase over time, and classroom conditions (in terms of overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation, and teaching quality) were poor.

Research has shown that, despite an automatic promotion policy, 12-14% of P3-P6 pupils repeat years. Absence of textbooks is a major challenge, with the percentage of P2 classrooms with no textbooks or just one copy for the teacher is 49.9% for local languages, 31.8% for mathematics and 23.5% for English.

Though not extreme, there are still challenges in meeting acceptable standards of important indicators of teaching staff quality such as pupil-teacher ratio, proportion of trained teachers and teacher presence.

Our Solution

“Ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning”.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4

Soft Power Education’s School Infrastructure Programme works with the Ministry of Education and local governments to achieve SDG4. We work to transform government primary schools into safe, creative and inspiring learning environments, with the aims of reducing absenteeism (both students and teachers) and drop-out rates, and raising performance levels.

After an initial assessment of the government primary schools throughout the district to identify where were will focus our efforts, we implement a combination of renovation of existing classroom blocks (including carrying out repairs and painting) and the construction of new classroom blocks.

We also build pit latrines, and teachers’ houses and kitchens.

Jinja

Jinja District

Since the commencement of our School Infrastructure Programme, we have worked at 58 schools across the Jinja district.

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We have also worked at two schools outside of Jinja District, in Kayunga District and Jinja Municipality. We hope to work at further schools within these areas in the future.

Buliisa

Buliisa District

 

In 2007, Soft Power Education expanded their School Infrastructure Programme into the Buliisa district, western Uganda which as a result of substandard infrastructure at government primary schools has some of the poorest education outcomes in the country.

The programme in Buliisa is continually supported by students from the University of Leeds’ Raise and Give (RAG) society. Since 2007, over 600 students have volunteered with us here in Uganda, raising in excess of £300,000. Additional funding has come from The Jephcott Charitable Trust, Hands of Help, as well as student volunteers from Aston University RAG, Middlesex University (UK) and the University of Nebraska. This support has allowed us to work at 18 schools across the district.

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Volunteer

Volunteer Opportunities

Our group volunteers are instrumental in fundraising for this work, and live and work alongside teams of local builders to dig foundations and build and plaster walls.

One day and long term volunteers assist us in the final phase of painting the classroom blocks to give them a new lease of life. We work with teaching staff at the school to create bright, colourful and informative teaching aids that are used as additional learning resources.

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