Photographs and story by Dan Wasiriwa
Sarah teaches Grade 3 literacy in Rongoro Primary School where most of the children from her small community of Bunashimolo attend. In addition, Sarah is a wife and mom with three kids of her own under the age of 10: Josephat, Betina, and little Blessing.
Sarah’s school has 912 students (467 boys, 445 girls) and enrolment continues to climb as a result of teachers like Sarah partnering with FH staff to promote reading and improve the quality of education in Bunashimolo.
Before FH began working with the people in Sarah’s community, very few people had gone to school, which had led to education being undervalued and underleveraged to families’ advantage. The reading culture in Bunashimolo was poor and parents didn’t get involved in their children’s literacy. Children didn’t read at home, partly because there were no books!
“Before, parents were not taking time to read with their children,” Sarah says. “This affected my teaching of reading and it took a long time for children to learn to read.” Sarah spent a lot of time teaching the same things over and over again. “I felt demotivated because my students were too slow to learn reading because they didn’t have access to reading materials.”
FH Uganda helped address this resource barrier by contributing primary school story books for children to read in class and also borrow to take home. They helped establish reading corners in classrooms to encourage kids to explore the books and practice their reading.
|Sarah loves using the new library to support her students (and her own kids at home!).
Along with other teachers, Sarah helped FH with community meetings for parents where they gathered to hear about the benefits of literacy and education for their children. After learning what literacy could do for their kids’ futures, parents got more involved by interacting with teachers, staying on top of how their kids are doing at school, and encouraging them to read at home.
“As a school, we worked closely with FH to organize reading and debating competitions,” Sarah speaks to another FH initiative to boost education in Bunashimolo. “The children are given the platform to express their ideas on different [subjects] and also improve their vocabulary and fluency. This has greatly improved teaching and learning of reading in our school,” Sarah beams.
“These activities have also exposed me to appreciate my role of teaching and its contribution to community transformation,” Sarah shares. She says her contribution is reflected in the parents who now visit the school and interact with teachers and borrow books to read with their children at home. Parents have gone the extra mile to also support school feeding initiatives so that community children can be well-fed and alert for their learning time at school.
|Students at Rongoro Primary School are growing by leaps and bounds in their reading skills since they started taking books home from the new library.
And it’s not just students who are changing, teachers are growing, too.
And Sarah practices what she preaches: “As a teacher, I extend similar experiences to my family—I always spare some time to read with my children at home.” She borrows books with simple stories to read with her children which has improved their reading skills and vocabulary. This has been a huge help. “In the past, I would spend a lot of money to buy reading materials for my children. With the reading materials provided by FH, I now save the money to buy basic needs for my family.”
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