Behind the Scenes of a COTN School in Uganda

08/01/18

Here’s a special, sneak peek into how you are changing education in Uganda. (Also, keep reading to the end to see an adorable video of children having fun while learning.)


“If I were going to write a story about education in Uganda,” says Lindsey Mueller, COTN–Uganda’s Education Specialist, “I would tell you about reading.”

Ugandan students with book
Teacher training and new books from partners like you have helped us improve students' reading.

“I would tell you that in 2011, our children were not receiving proper reading instruction,” Lindsey continues. “Children simply watched the teacher write a word or sentence on the board, listened to the teacher read the sentence, and then repeated the same sentence 3–10 times. No phonics. No sounding out. No trying it out on their own. And no books to hold in their hands.
 
In 2011, Wendy Brown, COTN’s International Education Director, led a teacher team to Uganda. The team trained our Uganda teachers on how to use a curriculum based on phonics.

Our teachers in Uganda embraced the new method, and Lindsey worked with them to implement the new curriculum.


Teacher at blackboard
Learning to sound words out phonetically used to be unusual in COTN–Uganda classrooms.


The change was dramatic. Lindsey explains, “Pretty soon, I saw children holding their own books and learning the letter sounds. Soon, I saw children reading words on their own without the help of the teacher.”  

The teachers continue to receive training, and the primary students’ reading test results continue to improve.


Education activity
Another major change to our school in Uganda has been the use of more hands-on activities, especially for our younger learners. The children love this, and their ability to identify and write their numbers and letters has greatly improved.

This change has required incredible dedication from our teachers. As Lindsey notes, “It’s not easy to open up your classroom and let someone else come in to show you new things you should be doing. It’s a bit humbling and our teachers have done it beautifully.”

When you give to children’s education through COTN, you aren’t just supporting individual students—you are also giving dedicated teachers the tools they need to change the lives of hundreds of students.

One of our biology teachers spent his spare time painstakingly writing a biology lab book for his students—because he didn’t have any lab books to give them. This is just one example of how much our teachers in Uganda care about helping their students.

Graduates celebrate
When you give to education, you partner with our in-country staff and teachers to help our children succeed. Lindsey (center) with COTN staff and our first four University/Vocational Program graduates: Janet, Gloria, Oliver, and Betty.

“Our teachers come very early in the morning (sometimes, by 6:30 a.m., they are there teaching),” says Lindsey. “And they leave in the evening. They hold career development sessions to help the students figure out what path is best for them. They participate in weekly devotions with the kids to strengthen their faith in Christ (or even to introduce them to who Christ is). They lead them in sports games and debates to give them a more holistic education. They plan field trips with the students to broaden their horizons and make learning a bit more hands-on.”

Field trip
Last year, fifty students took a field trip to Soroti Flying School, Soroti Meteorological Centre, Nyero Rock, and several other places. Without your support, these opportunities would be closed to them.

“If I were to tell you about our school,” says Lindsey, “I’d tell you about our new high school, Marani Honors High School. In northern Uganda, there is a shortage of quality high schools. . . . We tried sending our kids to high schools in the area, but we were not impressed with the academic performance, or (most concerning) the holistic care of our children. They didn’t get enough to eat, endured brutal hazing incidences, did not have quality teachers, etc.

So in 2015, partners like you helped us opened our own high school in Uganda.


Mercy at Marani Honors
Mercy is one of the students who benefitted from the Marani Honors High School. She says, “When I heard that we were coming back to our original school, wow,” she says. “Heaven on earth was mine. I was extremely overjoyed with this news.”


When you give to education through COTN, you are building safe and high-quality schools like the Marani Honors High School.

The students are excited to learn and the teachers are ready to teach them. All we need is someone like you to help us provide the tools they need. “There is so much more we want to do and provide for the kids,” says Lindsey. 

Here, as promised, is the video of young students enjoying their hands-on learning. Thanks to your help, we've come a long way.
 



P.S. If you would like to see more videos like this, please give to the Rally for Education and make sure students receive the tools they need to succeed.