John-Mary Kyagulanyi is a former student, and now teacher, at a PEAS school in Uganda.

"Hello, my name is John Mary from Onwards and Upwards - a PEAS School in Uganda.

I’m pleased to share with you my story with you. My background is that of poverty and single parenthood. My mother cared for me and my six brothers and sisters. My father died when I was very young and my mother couldn’t manage to pay for our schooling. My other siblings had to drop out of their studies after primary school. But I was the lucky one.

I had the good fortune to have a very dedicated primary head teacher and a very dedicated mum!

My mum took the initiative to go to my school and talk to my teachers. She asked and pleaded for me. She can be very persuasive and as a result my primary school headmistress personally sponsored me through lower secondary school. I got my ‘O’ Levels but could go no further.  There was no school to do A Levels anywhere near and anyway, the fees would be too high.

I ended up, aged 19, making bricks for money to help my mum support our family. I felt very sad and hopeless for my future. Then I heard that PEAS was building a school. My mother was earning only about £3 per month to support our whole family.  How could I think I would be able to pay to go to school?

But, we met with the PEAS head teacher and, because of the way PEAS is, they see the potential in students. They agreed to sponsor my full education so I could do my A Levels.


I had been out of school for a full year by then.  But when I joined the PEAS school I felt a changed life and I realised my future was resurrected. PEAS schools are not like other schools in Uganda. The teachers at PEAS are good and they are dedicated. With their unlimited advice and constant support, and my own hard work, I excelled. I achieved As in my A levels and I was placed 3rd in the entire district. My mum was very proud but sad too because she knew that she could never afford the cost to go to university.

Again PEAS came to my rescue! My teacher recommended me for the PEAS bursary scheme – and only through that I was able to get my university education. I am proud and thankful that I graduated in 2013 with a secondary upper degree from Makerere University. I am now a qualified teacher at PEAS’ Onward and Upward school – the very school where my story began.

I chose to teach because it is my way of returning the gift that PEAS gave me. I’m very grateful to be working with PEAS, and feel proud to be part of PEAS. PEAS not only enlightened my future, they saved it.

And through them I also am able to sponsor my 2 brothers’ education, also at Onward and Upward School.  I’m very proud to say that they are just completing their O’ levels. I hope I can say I am a good teacher. I know that I am dedicated to my students and I will do whatever I can to help them achieve in their lives. How could I not be this way with all the extra support I have received in my life from teachers."