In 2014, we began an initiative to sponsor and construct 3 classrooms at Rugot Primary School in Mulanda Sub-County, Tororo. The project was designed to radically improve access to primary education and create educational opportunites in the area. After a year of fundraising, construction was completed in August 2015.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Where: Mulanda Sub-County, Tororo, Uganda.
When: Aug 2014 - Aug 2015
Duration of project: 12 months
RUGOT IN 2014
Back in 2014, attaining a primary education in Rugot was a struggle. The school contended daily with an acute lack of resources, with only 4 classrooms to accomodate 700 pupils. Many were taught in basic classrooms under nearby trees with stones and scrap timbers subtituting chairs and desks. Even those lucky enough to be taught inside contended with class sizes of over 100. Problems compounded in the rainy seasons, when rainfall would frequently disrupt schooling, given the lack of adequate shelter, forcing Rugot to send hundreds of pupils home.
TEP Photo | Above: (July 2015) Rugot pupils study in basic classrooms under trees.
The consequences for Rugot were profound. Enrollment was declining and attendance was poor. Rain prevented huge numbers from attending school, meaning many would spend inadequate time in lessons during term time. Many pupils were unable to progress, as limited attendance meant limited exposure to the curriculum and failure to pass end of year tests. The drop out rate was high, and those with the means and/or will to stay would often do so into their late teens.
The plan to build classrooms was no new idea. Rugot's community of parents were proactive, and determined in their fight to provide a better education for their children. A contractor had been brought onboard, and plans for construction had been carefully planned. All that lacked was the financial means.
March 2015: Students at Freman College fundraise together by holding Tug of War competitions.
Photo by Phoebe Bidwell.
After meeting with the teachers and parents of Rugot, we calculated that constructing three classrooms would cost 57,000,000 Ugandan shillings. Despite contending with poverty and severely low income, local parents together contributed 17,000,000 including pledged materials such as home baked bricks. This left a remaining 40,000,000 (approx. 9000 GBP) to be raised in order for the construction to go ahead.
Fundraising began promptly in September 2014 and was based at Freman College, Buntingford, where students raised thousands in the following year. Edwinstree Middle School, Ralph Sadleir Middle School and Millfield First School also soon became involved and each made invaluable contributions. Students of all ages took part in fundraising events, including themed non-uniform days, cake sales and tug of war competitions. The project was a combined effort, with students working together and using their talents in sports, music and arts to raise money and create the change Rugot so desperately needed.
In December 2014, students at Freman College held the ProjectRugot Exhibition, collaborating with alumni and members of the local community. The exhibition showcased around 70 works, all on the theme 'Africa.' Many of these works were then donated and sold to members of the public, with all profits supporting the project. Local retailers and small business also contributed through buying adverts at the event and providing items for auction.
Among the most renowned contributors of the exhibition was sculptor John W. Mills, known for his Monument to the Women of WWII in Whitehall, London. The largest donor of the evening were the Tom Swain Memorial Trust, set up in memory of the talented photographer Tom Swain, whose work was displayed at the exhibition. The Trust made a stunning donation of £2,000, raising the overall total of the night to £4,500.
By early 2015, the majority of funds needed for construction had been raised.
THE CONSTRUCTION PHASE
Construction began in April 2015, headed by contractor Christopher Oyita. Labourers were hired locally, and all supplies sourced in Tororo town, the district centre. The initial stage of work involved establishing the foundations and laying hard stones and sub base to anchor the buildings raised floors, followed shortly by building the exterior and interior dividing walls.
After a short recess, construction resumed in early July 2015, with coordinator Will Knapman now on the ground to support the final work. By this time, fundraising in the UK had successfully reached its target, so we strived to complete the classrooms for use at the begginning of the September term. Over a course of 3 weeks, our dedicated team of carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers and joiners set about assembling the wooden frame roof, laying the floors, renderings the walls and fitting the doors and windows. Due to their exceptional work, construction was officially completed in early August 2015.
April 2015: Construction begins. Bricks baked by local community members are used build the walls.
"We are happy to report that a year on from construction Rugot has experienced radical change. Having decreased substantially in the school year 2014/15, pupil enrollment increased by 145 in the year 2015/16, meaning many more children from the community are now in school. Attendance has also dramatically improved: in June 2016, pupil turn out rose from <50% the previous year to an estimated 80%, a month in which learning has historically been disrupted by bad weather. Acting Headteacher, Anosciata, commented that pupil mentality has also changed considerably, with many displaying greater confidence in their learning and many more aspiring to attend secondary school."
Coordinator for ProjectRugot
Edwinstree Middle School
Ralph Sadleir Middle School
Millfield First School
Food for Thought/Devon Development Education
The Tom Swain Memorial Trust
The Cooperative Food
The Cheese Plate
J. Oliver Radley Opticians
Damien's Barber Shop
The Wine Bar