6th June, 2016 was the official start of term two for schools in Uganda. It was an exciting day and the whole week has been busy with parents taking their children back to school.
There are public and private schools in Uganda. Parents are free to take their child to any one of these schools depending on what resources they have available to them and their personal preferences.
Students travel by foot, bus, car, and even taxi depending on how far their school is.
During this period, business is highly booming in these private schools. The school fees in some of the private primary and secondary schools are the same as the fees for a university student’s semester. Clearly, parents really value their children’s education and understand how important it is.
I accompanied my younger brother to one of the private schools in Mukono and I was overwhelmed by the required items these children have to take to school! First of all, each class has its own color of jerrycans, basins, plates, cups, and mosquito nets. You can imagine walking the whole of Kikuubo looking for a pink 20 litre jerrycan! The list of requirements is long and includes items like brooms, toilet balls, and toilet cleaning detergents, toilet paper, scrubbing brushes, reams of printing paper and ruled paper, tennis rackets, barbed wire and much more. Of course, the schools need all of these items to accommodate the students.
Students arrive at school with the many items required.
One would think that the high school fees would cover these items. However, parents have to buy all these items and more in addition to paying the school fees.
These materials are enough to put up a serious supermarket! I wonder if one student can use a whole ream of paper (500 sheets) in just one term. If a school has over 1,000 students, they are collecting more than 1,000 reams of paper! Surely that is too much. However, we must value education.
With the current economic hardships, most parents will face loans and debts in pursuit of quality education for their children.
As educators and an organization aiming to complement the education system, Maendeleo Foundation hopes to alleviate some of the stresses of students heading back to school by beginning our programs right away at the start of the term. We are already back in schools and excited to make every school day count for students, regardless of all of the materials needed and time spent getting back to school! In addition to the education pupils receive in their schools, Maendeleo provides them with extra training and opportunities every school term.
Happy second term of school to all students, teachers, and parents!
By Talemwa Charlotte, Volunteer, Mass Communication Graduate from Uganda Christian University (UCU)