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Oyam Distrikt, Uganda
The Barmwony Primary School is located in an economically very weak area of Uganda. The majority of the students come from socially underprivileged families. The unemployment rate in the region is 93 % and as in other parts of the country, child labor is a common occurrence. The approximately 1.253 pupils of the school learn in buildings without electricity or water supply. Also the school’s sanitary facilities are in a poor condition. These circumstances make a concentrated learning atmosphere almost impossible. In cooperation with our partner organization Link to Progress (LTP) we therefore planned the construction of new latrines, a hand washing facility and a new school building. Additionally, the existing classrooms will be renovated and refurbished.
At the Barmwony Primary School there are around 1.253 pupils aged 6-13 registered – around 525 girls and 728 boys. 13 employed teachers teach the children in classes of on average 180 pupils each. The school is located in an economically weak area. Most of the students come from socially underprivileged families with a low level of education. The inhabitants of the village are mainly farmers, in the case they have a regular job. As in other parts of Uganda, child labor is part of everyday life in this district.
The school consists of a building financed by the Ugandan government in 2002 with 7 classrooms, a bookstore and three residential buildings for the teachers. As these were not sufficient, two additional temporary teachers’ dormitories were built by the parents. In rural areas of Uganda, teachers’ accommodations are common at schools, as otherwise teachers would skip classes due to long and often poorly developed constructed service routes.
The acute lack of space – 7 classrooms for 1.253 students – not only leads to an enormous loss of concentration, but also makes it impossible to teach the students efficiently. As a result, they do not learn the necessary basic skills such as reading, writing and math. A vicious circle develops: the reputation of the school and of education in general declines. In addition, the teachers have no space to prepare for and follow up on the lessons. The employees also have no rooms in which they can take care of the needs of the school administration. This leads to the concerns of the students and parents falling by the wayside and there are hardly any suitable organizational structures.
9 latrines, four for girls and five for boys, are supposed to be available for all pupils and the 15 employees of the school. However, the latrines are in such a desolate and unhygienic condition that they can’t be used. The borehole that was dug for a well has collapsed in the meantime and is unusable – if it was intact, it would provide clean groundwater. Thus, basic hygiene while attending school is almost impossible. This affects all students, but girls in particular are prevented from hygienic and thus safe school attendance during their menstruation.
After several visits of the school by our partner organization LTP on site and discussions with the school management and the teaching staff, we came to the conclusion that the school urgently needs support. Currently, the school’s greatest needs are adequate sanitary facilities and a hand washing facility.
The core of the project is on the one hand the construction of drainable latrines as single cabins in two blocks and a hand washing facility. On the other hand, we are planning the renovation of the existing seven classrooms along with the construction of a school building with four classrooms and an office room as well as an integrated water supply with rain gutters and water tank.
By building a hand washing system, the water supply for the students and teachers can be secured and the hygienic standard can be raised, which is extremely important, especially during the current pandemic. There are already water pipes on the property. For this purpose, the existing water pipes will be tapped after a quality test. Through a new borehole, a water pump will supply the hand washing facility.
Following the construction work, “WASH workshops” (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) are planned. They should teach the children how to use water and the importance of hygiene in a playful way. Through small exercises the students will, for example, go through the entire hygienic processes of going to the toilet, washing their hands afterwards or brushing their teeth properly, and thus internalize them better.
In addition, COVID-19 awareness-raising work is planned for all students, teachers and employees of the school. A workshop on menstrual hygiene and puberty will also be held for older students. They will learn how to make sanitary pads themselves from simple materials. This workshop is intended to indirectly help to ensure that girls are not absent from class because of their periods and are not put at an educational disadvantage. During the workshops, a WASH committee is set up and responsibility for the maintenance and control of the sanitary facilities is transferred to the students.
Also a finance and savings workshop will be offered for the parents. The school management committee will additionally be trained through a workshop on how to effectively request help from the education authorities. The school management committee will be trained through a workshop on how to effectively request help from the education authorities. Subsequently, student committees on the topics of hygiene and maintenance of the school will be established. At the end of the project, an evaluation of the project implementation will take place.
LTP is a registered NGO in Uganda, which was founded in 2008. The main focus of LTP is supplying vulnerable communities in Uganda with basic hygienic infrastructure, access to basic education and quality learning. The entire construction process of the facilities is controlled, documented, supervised and evaluated by LTP. The workshops are also organized directly by LTP.
After only six months, the seven classrooms are completely renovated and the newly built latrine blocks shine in new splendour!
After the excavation work for the latrine blocks was finalized, the foundation and the pillars for the foundation walls were poured. The inner walls of the latrines have been smoothed with cement and the concrete ceiling is done as well! Great progress can also be seen in the renovation of the classrooms.
The construction work of the follow-up project is progressing: In addition to the planned renovation of the seven classrooms that are still in disrepair, ten additional latrines with an integrated washroom for girls are also being built. The excavation work for the latrine blocks has already taken place.
The premises were handed over to the Barmwony Primary School. Hence, the construction of a new school building with four classrooms and an office room, including an integrated water supply, drainable latrines, a hand washing facility and a well, could be implemented according to plan.
Despite the ongoing restrictions, construction work has continued. The hand washing facility is already completely finished and only the cleaning of the area and the final painting of the buildings are still to be done at the latrines and the new classrooms.
The newly constructed well could be put into operation. At the beginning of the project, the borehole that was dug for a well had collapsed and was unusable.
The construction work continues to progress. Now that the foundation work for the new classroom building has been completed, the walls for it are already being diligently raised. In addition, the excavations for the new sanitary facilities have already taken place. Here, two blocks of drainable latrines in individual cubicles and a hand washing facility are being built.
During our Uganda trip in June 2019, we had initial discussions with our project partner LTP about the project.