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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Primary School Visit

Today was a very busy day at the primary school in Mbarara. Some of us left the hotel at 6:45 to start working and the rest of us left at 8:45. The school was very close to the hotel so we were able to walk there. When the early shift of people arrived to the school they removed the books and furniture from the classrooms so that they were ready to paint when the rest of the Drake and MUBS students arrived.

After everyone had arrived at 9:00 a.m. we had an assembly with all the students at the primary school. Their head master welcomed us to the school and had the children sing the national anthem of Uganda. We were then introduced the faculty of the school. After their introductions each of the students from Drake and MUBS stood up and said their name and what they were studying at school. Once we had all had gone around we allowed the children to ask us questions about school or the United States. At first the students did not have many questions but once we started passing out candy if they asked a question there were a lot of hands up with questions. One the students asked us to sing the national anthem. We had some Drake choir students lead us so we would not sound so horrible.

When we were done with questions we had a lot of time to interact with the students of the primary school. Many of us took pictures of the kids. They loved seeing pictures of themselves on the camera. Many of them would just come up to us asking if we could take pictures of them and then seconds later you would be surrounded by kids wanting to be in a picture. They thought that seeing their picture was one of the coolest things.

Once we were done taking pictures and playing with the kids it was time to get to work. Our project was to paint the outside and inside of one of the school building. All the paint and supplies we used was donated by Kristin Kowalski’s friends and family in memory of her mom. It was a very generous donation and we had plenty of supplies to finish the job.

All the students from Drake and MUBS worked very well together so we were able to get the job done very timely. In the afternoon to take a break from painting many of us went to the classrooms to pass out candy to the students. They were all so happy to receive the candy and a little break from studying. When classes were done for the day all the children came running out the their classrooms to get more candy. We were all swarmed with children pushing to get more candy. Within five minutes we no longer had any more candy to pass out. Once all the candy was gone we put the finishing touches on the school and cleaned up our work area.

It was a very busy and long day, but it felt really good to be able to help out the children at the primary school.


Was there anything interesting that you learned about the school systems in Uganda today?

What did you enjoy most about the visit to the primary school?


  1. I want to thank all of the Drake and MUBS students for their hard work today! You all put in a very long day and did an exellent job! I also want to thank the Kowalski family for their generousity, your generousity allowed us to not only paintthe inside and outside of one of the 5 school buildings, but also start on a second!

    The thing I enjoyed the moast was finally giving something back to Mbarara Mixed Primary School. We have visited the school multiple times and the Head Mistress, faculty and students have been wonderful hosts. While we enjoy meeting the students and learning about education in Uganda, the professors have always wanted to find a way to help the school. Thank you all for helping us acheive this dream and starting what I hope will become a yearly tradition with the school!

  2. What a day it was! I could not believe how a simple task such as painting a building and doing some handy work (although it was painful at times) can impact the lives of so many students. The looks on their faces proved how truly thankful they were. The thing I learned about the school system is that the schools need to be updated BADLY. Technology is a nonfactor in these schools (if we are taking the Mbarara Mixed School as our sample) and the donation of the calculators should improve thtat greatly. I wish we could have spent a couple of days at the school, as I am curious to know how much we could have done with more time. Things like this make me want to go home, get a sponsor, and really change a school system. That would be sustainable in more ways than one. I am afraid that if they do not fixed the leaking roof, they will have problems in the next few years and all that paint we put on the ceiling will crumble to the ground along with the tiles.

    I was most touched when a young girl from the school grabbed my arm as I walked through the grounds. She seemed intimidated by all of the chaos and she found some comfort in me. Things like this make all the work we put forth worthwhile. All in all it was a great day and I hope to be a part of something like that in the near future.

  3. Today was easily one of the most rewarding days yet! Being able to help the school in their efforts to educate children is one of the most important things we could have done. Personally, I was really touched by the presbtatuon of Kristin's plaque to the school in memory of her mother; it was very emotional is most likely a memory I will not forget.
    The hard work and sense that we had just done something really good for the school is an experience that many of us were touched by. At the school I learned that so many of the students have high hopes for their futures which is very promising and inspirational to sustainable development. Eduction is the most fundamental thing the country can do to instill motivation and empowerment to take steps towards a brighter future. If the education system can take iniatative and do their part in inspiring these children for bright futures, the country too has hope for a bright and sustainable future,

  4. Visiting the primary school was definitely eye opening and rewarding. Not only did the children love having their pictures taken, they loved holding the camera and learning how it worked.

    I was interested to see how the students were kind of milling around during the day. Sometimes it didn't feel like they were in class so I wasn't sure what they were doing. It is now apparent that the government needs to direct much larger funds towards education throughout Uganda. I also thought it was interesting how some students could hardly speak English and then others had wonderful English.

    My favorite part of the day was interacting with the students and seeing what they were interested in. I also liked handing out candy to them....when they were in small groups. I also enjoyed showing the students how my digital camera worked. They are very smart and caught on quickly!

  5. Visiting the primary school was easily one of the most eye-opening experiences that I feel we have done throughout the trip so far. It was shocking to see the state of the school building and the condition of the school materials that were being used to teach the children. I was surprised to find that the most advanced teaching instrument within the school was a chalkboard and chalk. All of this was really disappointing in that it felt as if the children deserved so much more. This seemed especially true when so many of them have high hopes for themselves. They want to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and so much more that I feel that they deserve much better learning conditions. I was so happy to be able to help them out even as much as I did, by helping to paint the buildings and spend time with the children. It was very rewarding to see pride in both the children's and headmistress's faces after they looked at what work we had done. Hopefully, what we have done leads them to bright, successful futures!

  6. What a difference a day makes, for not only the children of the Mbarara Mixed School, but for us as well. It was such an eye-opener to see the condition of the school, and it was so rewarding to be able to help them through the hard times that they have to live with. The moment that touched me the most was when early in the morning, while scraping the walls with sandpaper, when a young boy came up to me and asked for my home information, such as my address and phone number, to be able to keep in contact with me. This alone was priceless, and that was the drive that I think all of us students helping out had, to work hard and do the best we could for the kids.

  7. A little work and effort can go a far way. Visiting the primary school and helping out with the buildings, talking to the students, and adding to their school materials really made quite the difference. I'm glad that they appreciate all of the hard work we put in to the school... but I don't think the Mistress understands how much we appreciated interacted with the students! It was such a touching and rewarding experience to hear the goals and dreams of the students. I gave my email out to a few of the students and I really hope they contact me because I am definitely willing to support and guide them as much as I possibly can. This event should definitely stay in this study abroad session... quite an eye opener.

  8. I felt like this day provided a good glimpse of the education system in Uganda. The most interesting thing for me out of the day was interacting with one of the students after the assembly. He showed me how some of the instruments that were in the classrooms we were painting were played. Apparently they do have some music classes, and use the instruments for cultural events near the end of the semester. The student I spoke with is also in an interschool xylophone ensemble, which was great to hear. Overall, though, there was so much we could have done to help out at the school. The other buildings looked to be about the same state as the one we repainted. Having been built in the 60’s, though, it is remarkable that they are still as usable as they are. I hope the school can get some funds from the government to continue repairs. The rural placement of the school makes that less likely, though. For example, old barbed wire was being used as fencing for the bushes and trees. I was glad we could do something, though, and I hope that this is a tradition that continues each year.

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  10. I would have to agree with everyone else that this is one of the most rewarding things that we have done this trip and personally one of the most rewarding things I have done so far in my life. It truly touched me the way were able to impact the school which in turn impacts the community and Uganda as a whole. One of the most interesting things I learned during our time at the school was that about 80% of the children in rural schools go on to college. At first this seemed shocking to me but after reflecting on this statistics and the facts that support this it made sense. The education system, specifically this school, is nowhere near up to par with how an education system should be. They do not have the supplies or the expertise to allow a greater percentage to further their education after high school. A few of us went with Dr. Senteza to use donations from a few Drake students to buy school supplies for the school. We ended up buying 74 calculators which is over the amount needed to supply every student in the math class with a calculator. The functions on the calculators will work through calculus. The school had zero calculators before this. We also bought them 24 dozens of notebooks for them to use so that no student would go without paper. All of this only cost us about 250 US dollars which is hardly anything in comparison with the amount that we were able to get and the effect it would make for the students education. I believe that more of the international aid should be going to help these educational systems. This type of aid should be used for sponsoring students and helping to build a stronger educational foundation because these students are the future of Uganda and if we want to help Uganda have sustainable development the future of Uganda needs to be educated.

  11. Although the primary school visit was very touching and rewarding, I wonder what the ending effects our work will have. The school was undeniably left in better condition. However, if the school does not receive serious structural improvements, the work we did will go to complete waste. Also, with time the buildings will soon collapse if left as is. The work we did, although beneficial, I fear might have been a quick fix.

  12. What surprised me the most today was that many of the younger children did not know how to speak English. When we were interacting with the children earlier in the day many of the younger kids did not understand what we were saying. I thought they were just being shy but later one of the teachers told us they know very little English. This surprised me because I did not know that English was a launguage taught in schools rather than family members.

    I also agree with everyone else, that this was one of the awarding parts of the trip. It really felt like we were helping people in Uganda. It was good that we were able to help the school and learn more about the country at the same time. I think that all of us will easily be able to remember this day from all the pictures that we took of the children.

  13. This was one of my favorite days in Uganda. It was a nice break from the academics and provided a good opprotunity for us to give to their community. It made me very thankful for the education we recieve in the United States. It was fun because the students were all very eager to meet us. I realized I take a lot of things for grantite. The children were so excited to get their pictures taken and for candy. They were very grateful for very little things. I spent some time with a small group of the students and they asked me a lot of questions, some I had no answers for. They were very interested in the United States and the daily lives we lead there. They also taught me a song that they sing in church. I had a great day!

  14. Visiting the primary school and fixing up a building was a very rewarding experience. I was really happy to be a part of it, but I found myself wondering how much a coat of paint would really improve these students' education. This is why many of us pooled some money and bought a class set of calculators and a bunch of class workbooks. I talked with Reuben, a math teacher at the school, and he told me that he did not even own a calculator. I couldn't believe how limited their funding and resources were at this school. I'm glad that we could do a little bit to help.
    As I've been doing research for my paper I came across a program that provides computers for schools in Uganda. (The website is http://uconnect.org/ if you want to check it out!) Their goal is to use Information and Computer Technology to provide better education for youth in Uganda. They have helped over 300 schools already! It felt great to be a part of helping Uganda's next generation by painting their school and buying supplies. It is even more inspirational to see that people have recognized the need for less fortunate countries to become more technologically advanced. Why not start with the youth? = ]