March 2014 Trip Planning Underway
Charlie is preparing for his March 2014 trip to St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School. The first term for the 2014 will be well underway. All are closely monitoring the insurgencies in South Sudan. By January 12, over 2,600 refugees have arrived and registered at Kiryandongo. The visit provides the opportunity to address challenges and modify the 2014 plans as necessary. We look forward to visiting with the Primary 7 students, as this is the first year P-7 has been offered at the St. Bakhita campus. Also, Charlie will be plannning for the internship program for college students to take place in the summer of 2014. He is looking forward to the hospiality of the New Eden Guest House in Bweyale and the Boma in Entebbe.
Trip to St. Bakhita, October 2013
Charlie and Susan visited St. Bakhita from October 24 through November 1, accompanied by Dr. Nancy Austin, a seasoned teacher and retired professor of education, who observed the classrooms and interviewed each teacher to determine their needs and to set up a plan for continuous improvement for teachers and administrators. Also part of the group were Ann Noyes of Yarmouth, Maine, USA, and Doug and Georgette Morrell of Brunswick, Maine, USA. Nancy worked with all the teachers, observing them in the classroom and working with them to develop the framework for their continuing education (see article elsewhere in this letter). Georgette, an art teacher, taught a group of 27 students and teachers how to paint with pastels. They embraced the new medium and created wonderful paintings. Doug, a former teacher, assisted in the classrooms and had wonderful interactions with the students as he corrected their papers. Doug also brought soccer balls for the children. The life of a ball in the school yard, being kicked against brick walls and played on a field with stones and rough patches, is quite limited. With the new balls, there was a spirited game between the fifth and sixth grade boys. To the dismay of the sixth graders and their rooters (sixth grade girls), the fifth graders won! The teams wore the new uniforms provided by Helms & Company, Inc. of New Hampshire, USA.
Susan worked with students in the middle nursery, P2, and P5 classrooms, with help from Ann Noyes and teacher Pauline Layat. The 66 children in the nursery classroom used crayons to draw and color anything they liked. Their teacher Rosemary had the children write their names on their masterpieces, and after Ann and Susan wrote “Good” with a red pen on each one, they were given back to the children to proudly take home. For the P2 classroom, the media were watercolor paints and stickers, and the completed pictures were attached to the classroom wall for a group photo with the artists. In P5 the medium was watercolor, with many of the students completing two and even three paintings, also displayed for a group photo. None of the students in any of the three classrooms needed instruction, as they are creative, enthusiastic, and focused. All of the unused art supplies were left in the storage building for ongoing use.
Ann, an author and etiquette expert who is retired from The Protocol School of Washington, presented to students and teachers a typical American meal served and eaten according to Western etiquette.
2014 Operating Budget Approved
The operating budget for St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary school for the school year beginning in January, 2014 was approved by the teachers and SFR. Included in the budget are the costs of adding Primary 7 within the campus. The process, which was instituted for the 2013 school year, had the teachers develop a list of needs, from salaries to text books to supplies. Charlie Roscoe, on behalf of SFR, suggested $34,000 as the amount of money that will be raised from SFR donors to support the budget. In an interactive meeting, Charlie and the teachers discussed all the elements of the list of needs and agreed on where cuts should be made to make the budget equal the SFR commitment. The budget is an increase from $18,000 for 2014 and includes a 50% increase in teacher pay to $1,200 per year. A copy of the budget is available by contacting Charlie.
Twenty-Three Students Graduate from Primary-7 and Enroll in O-1 (First Year of Secondary School)
Twenty-three 2012 graduates of St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School have completed their year of Primary 7 at Star Education Center, a private primary school in Bweyale and have been accepted for 2014 to attend the Panyadoli Self Help Secondary School located a few steps from St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School.
Fifteen Students Enrolled in O-2 (Second Year of Secondary School)
Fifteen 2011 graduates of St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School and 2012 graduates of Star Education Center havecompleted their first year at Panyadoli Self Help Secondary School. They begin O-2 in January 2014. The school islocated in the settlement and is only a few minutes from most students’ huts. In their first year of high school, students completed thirteen courses. Six are taught on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and seven are taught on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. This a very rigorous program which the students embrace with determination.
Trip to St. Bakhita, May 2013
On April 26, 2013, Michael Anywar, the teacher representative, hosted Charlie Roscoe from Yarmouth, Maine, USA, Dick Forte from Natick, Massachusetts, USA. and Jeff White from Alexandria, New Hampshire, USA during their visit to St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School. Also stopping by to deliver school supplies, sports equipment, gifts and cheer for the students were Shirley Martin from Yarmouth, Maine, USA and Dr. David Trobisch from Springfield, Missouri, USA.
There were many purposes for the trip including meeting with Michael to review the quality of education provided to the over 550 nursery and primary students and to learn of the needs of teachers and students as they pursue quality education. We met with teachers to update operating budgets, discuss capital projects including completion of three new classrooms and a proposed solar power system. We met with the students who are provided full scholarships through generous donors to Schools for Refugees, at Star Education Center primary school and Panyadoli Self Help secondary school. We also met with the director of the Panyadoli Health Center who provided a tour of the very rudimentary obstetrics facilities.
Trip to St. Bakhita, October 2012
On September 30, 2012, Charlie Roscoe, Bill Morrell from Brunswick, Maine, USA, and Mark Woodsum from San Diego, California, USA, arrived at St. Bakhita Nursery and Primary School. We were greeted by Michael Anywar, the teacher representative for St Bakhita School and Business Manager in Uganda for Schools For Refugees, and Mathew Ochola, the recently elected head teacher. Shortly after entering the school grounds on Sunday, a dozen children gathered to greet us. As we met in the small office to unpack suitcases filled with supplies for the school, the students looked on with wide, curious eyes. Of special interest were the soccer (football) balls which Bill had carried in his luggage, and the volleyball and basketball which Mark carried for the students.Charlie, Bill and mark attended classes, set up the volleyball net, basketball hoop and net ball courts, organized and participated in football games, and distributed over 300 pen pal letters from students at Harrison Middle School, Yarmouth, Maine, USA. During the week, Bill and Mark introduced the teachers and students to Frisbee tossing and whiffle ball. Leftover rope used to secure the volley ball net was quickly turned into a jump rope at which many of the girls excelled. The school yard during recess and after school was filled with new sports, where previously, football and modified net ball (without a hoop) were the only games played.
We brought an Apple iPad for Michael to use for expanded education offerings including teaching aids, movies for students, and business and communication functions. Bill explained functions and operations to Michael, and because of that as well as his help in diagnosing problems with the school generator, he was named the honorary director of facilities and technology!
Michael gave a tour of the expanded garden on the school campus. The school property is approximately ten acres, of which four acres are newly under cultivation by the students, for maize and other vegetables for porridge and teachers’ lunches. On a buying trip to Bweyale, Bill bought hoes and slashers for the students to use as they plant and weed the gardens and cut grass on the playing field. Previously, they had one hoe that the students passed around as they gardened. Now, eight or more students will be able to hoe at the same time.
THE PARHAA NATIONAL GAME PARK TRIP, written by two students
A few months ago we traveled to paraa national game park. We were fourteen in number; seven girls and seven boys
which came from different classes in st Bakhita school..this trip was an interesting one just because it was our first time to move out of the settlement and especially to a national park. It was on the 06/oct/2012 in the morning of Saturday at 5:30am when we start off from the settlement. We passed the karum bridge on the way to northern Uganda befor turning off to the road heading to Arua. We drive for about 60-70kms befor Approaching the packweack Bridge. And turning to our left were we entering through the northern bypass into the park through a small bridge which we did recognize it name. At the park gate all the cars came to stop. We wonder what was happening. We saw Michael and Charles Roscoe jump off the car heading toward the small office at the gate. As we waited we posted for photos at the gate which the PTA chairman kept on taking. Soon Michael and Charles were back as we set off on our game tracking but later we learned they were paying for the pass into the park.
On the first eye what we saw look like some big ant hill not knowing that those were herd of elephant and later we recognize them as our car approach them and this was the start of our long journey. We drove through the park up a point where it was written game tracking and we took that route just few minutes we saw what we call the African great giraffes just two of them but later on our way back we saw plenty of them apart from the hippos which we were told count the highest.
Population in the park driving the name pa-raa which mean homes of hippos. Other animals we saw were buffalo, waterbuck, warthog and Uganda kob. At about 1:00 we reach to the ferry side than we cross the Nile on the ferry to the Masindi side. Here we had a lot of time to play around and take our pack lunch. By 2:00 pm we enter the Seabill boat and rided up to the falls and came back to the shore where our drivers were waiting for us. From here we got back into the car and drive our way back seeing many animal as it was coming to evening and many animal are out eat and soon we at Packwack bridge and passed up to Packwack town and than made our way back to the settlement. As we enter the settlement the student start to sing song of happiness bring us finally to St Bakhita school compound.
On March 19, 2012, Bosco Oringa, former student at St. Bakhita School in Uganda, and Susan and Charlie Roscoe were invited to address the students and teachers in their classrooms at the Harrison Middle School (HMS) in Yarmouth, Maine, USA. They presented the story of St. Bakhita School and the life story of Bosco Oringa. The teachers and administration of HMS selected Schools for Refugees as the charity for a week-long fundraising as a part of their World Languages and Cultures Week. Under the direction and with the enthusiastic support of Mrs. Vicenzi, the students raised $1,100, which has been sent to the St. Bakhita school to buy materials to construct much needed wooden desks (tables) and benches for their classrooms.
INTERVIEWS WITH MOTHERS
The pen pal program, an exchange of letters between St. Bakhita students and Yarmouth (Maine) Harrison Middle School (HMS) students, is underway! Letters written by the HMS students were mailed to Uganda on January 20, 2012. Letters were received at St. Bakhita School on February 24! Students and teachers in both schools are looking forward to new friendships and an exciting learning experience!
UGANDA VISIT NOVEMBER 2011
Susan and Charlie Roscoe visited St. Bakhita School from November 6 to 11, joined for several of those days by friends Bill Allen and Shirley Martin. We received a tremendously warm welcome from Michael Anywar, teachers, PTA representatives, and students, including a celebration in our honor that featured songs and traditional dancing. The children were well rehearsed, and their performances were expert, enthusiastic, heartwarming, and quite an emotional experience for us.
During our second day there, Susan and Shirley, with help from two artistic teachers, set up an art studio under a big tree in the school yard. The students proved to be wonderful artists, very observant and creative, and we attached all their paintings to the tree to make a gallery. We were short on art supplies since the big suitcase that contained most of them was lost by the airline. It was finally found on the day we returned to Entebbe, and we sent it by car to St. Bakhita’s to be used during the next term.
Bill brought three soccer balls with him to give to the school, and that first day we all walked to a nearby field after school. Once several cows were moved from the field, the games began. The boys play very good football (soccer, in the US). The girls play very fast-moving netball.
Much of our time at St. Bakhita’s was spent in the classrooms, where we had opportunities to observe teachers and students and to participate a little. The classrooms are necessarily very structured, since there are so many students in each one, the largest having an enrollment of 75 children. A big change from Charlie’s 2010 visit is that the teachers now have teaching guides and some student textbooks purchased with funds provided by Schools For Refugees.
Lessons begin at 8:20 AM, when the teacher enters the classroom and says “Good morning, Students,” and the students stand and reply “Good morning, Teacher.” The lesson commences, with the teacher explaining the information and giving examples. Frequently the teacher will stop and ask, “Are we together?” and usually the collective answer is “Yes,” but students are encouraged to speak up if they need help, and then the teacher explains further. The teacher writes each step of the lesson on the blackboard, and the students copy it into their notebooks. Then examples in the form of questions are written down, and the students provide their answers in their notebooks, which are then corrected before moving on. The students are all polite, focused, and well behaved. The teachers are definitely in charge, but never resort to harsh discipline, or even raise their voices. They are respected. There is also a very active PTA.
Instruction is in English, with occasional translation from Acholi. Substantially all students are of Sudanese descent. Several have been sent back from South Sudan by their parents because of the higher quality of education available at St. Bahkita’s.
There are breaks in both mid-morning and mid-afternoon, during which the children play in the schoolyard and adjacent grassy area, and the teachers gather at their table in the yard and work on their lesson plans. At 1:00 the children are each given a cup of porridge -– ground maize boiled in water, with sugar added when available. We are exploring possibilities for providing more nutrition, perhaps by adding vegetables or fruit to the porridge. The maize is donated by parents, and it was parent labor that constructed the cooking hut and two new classrooms connecting two older buildings. SFR funds were used to purchase building materials, and enough cups that each child has one. After lunch the younger children go home, while the older ones return to the classroom until the school day ends. Very little homework is given, since the children have work to do when they get home, which includes tending to siblings, working in gardens, and caring for livestock. The children study hard, play hard, and work hard, and by day’s end they have earned a rest.
For current enrollment figures for St Bakhita Nursery And Primary School please visit the section entitled “Students”
Classrooms are in brick school buildings with tin roofs and half with dirt floors. The teachers’ “office” is a table in a circle of chairs under a big tree. Lunch is prepared under a tin-roofed shelter built with SFR funds