Pioneer High School will open in Mityana District in February 2011. We spoke to different members of the community to find out what they thought about getting a secondary school. You can see photos to go with the stories at the bottom of the page...
Winnie, Charles (12), Bridget (6) and Martin (3)
My name is Winnie and I am married to a farmer. We have our own land, and can afford to rent out a few small huts to other villagers. We live close to Namungo, where Pioneer High School is being built. My husband has travelled to Mityana town today to sell some of his crops. Mostly we grow and sell coffee but we also have some crops for our own family subsistence and to sell in my shop. I am a very busy woman at the moment because it is my duty to pick and dry the coffee beans. Three of my children are here helping me today. They are usually in primary school, but it is the school holidays at the moment.
I also have three older ones who are away in Kampala trying to find work. My first-born children did not go to secondary school because the only one was far away. We needed them at home to help us with digging, picking, fetching water and milking our cows. I am very very happy now I know that there is a new secondary school coming to our area. My youngest children will now be able to attend and also remain close to home. I was a very good student at primary school and I dearly wished to carry on my education. My teachers helped pay for me to go to secondary school for one year, but then I had to drop out. I thank God that some of my children will have the opportunity that I didn’t. Maybe they can be professionals and learn to speak good English. I am the head of the village women’s group so I will make sure that all of the mothers know about this lovely school.
John with wife, Violet, and daughters, Desire and Shanita
I am John and I am the Local Community Leader for the Namungo parish. This means that it is my duty to solve local disputes over land or water and to stop any fights. I do this by organising committee meetings where everyone can be heard in a calm manner. I live here with my wife Violet and my children. My first-born is Harriet lives far from us with her grandfather so that she can reach a secondary school. Daniel is 15 and has just finished Primary school. Then there is Victoria, Deus, Desire and Shanita.
I am a farmer and I have a small patch of land where I grow maize, beans, bananas and tomatoes. If we grow enough, Violet takes the left-over to market to sell along with our cash-crop, coffee. I was worrying that we would not have the funds to send Daniel to secondary school with his elder sister. Now that Pioneer High School is coming to us, I can hope that all of my children can continue after primary school to a bright future. I really think that secondary school is an excellent idea because in the future our children will be able to improve our government and our society.
My name is Daniel and I am 15 years old. Everybody calls me Danny. I have just finished my primary school leaving exams. I am trying to enjoy my school holidays but I’m a bit nervous because I’m waiting for my results. I think I have done well, especially in Mathematics. I am going to start at Pioneer High School after the holidays. I’m so lucky that there will now be a secondary school close to my home. It would have been too difficult for my family to send me to a boarding school.
I am Adella and I am 73 years old. I live with my daughter and my five grandchildren. I did not go to school so I cannot read and write. I weave mats out of sisal and then I help my daughter with the farming and digging. We grow enough foods to feed our family but there is little left over to sell. Some of the boys went to secondary school for a while but they had to drop out. I think the new secondary school that is being built will help the younger generations of my family rise out of poverty.
My name is Nammigadde Lovincer and I am the Mityana District Education Officer. We are very grateful that a new secondary school is being built in the Namungo sub-county. More than just building a school, this will help the whole community. The high drop-out rate from secondary schools in this area is a real problem for us. It is the girl-child who is affected most badly. The girls from the Namungo area rarely attend secondary school and when they do, they usually don’t complete. The distance to the nearest secondary is too far. The long route they travel is demoralising and can be very dangerous. Parents are reluctant to put their girls through this. Especially when they can stay at home and help supplement the family income.
Child labour is a big issue in the Namungo area. Parents do no support education. They are not even keen to encourage their children at primary because, before now, there was no hope that the children could continue to secondary school. This new secondary school will make a real difference to the whole community. I am sure that parents will enrol their children. The distance is near, the fees are low and lunch is provided. In an area where most people live below the poverty line, the provision of free lunch cannot be underestimated. Often parents cannot afford to fill their children’s bellies. Hunger will not be an obstacle to attendance or learning at this new school. We are all truly grateful.