Becoming involved in my Children’s Education and Future: 

The Story of a father of four, Francis Ojok.

Francis and His Daughter
Francis and His Daughter
“MY NAME IS FRANCIS OJOK and I am a father to four beautiful children. I love them very much and I want the best for each of them. They all go to school at IGF Primary School in Kitgum. I first heard about the school in the early 2000’s during the war when I was in the Gangdyang refugee camp. The school provided education and food to many children who had run for refuge from the villages, which were dangerous due to rebels in the camps in town. At that time, I had just met my wife and we only had one child.
After a while, the guns went silent and the war ended. There was peace in the physical but I felt there was a battle left for us to fight. The war had taken away education and ignorance had come into our children. It was something that we had to really fight and worst of all, most of the schools where not giving full services or good education even as they charged us expensive school fees. I felt like they were just trying to make money on us. I heard about Mama Irene and her school, that was offering free meals to many children and I sent my little girl to study there.
The school was totally free, they provided free learning and free food to all of the children. A lot of parents sent their children to study there. At that time after the war, we had little or no source of income. But still, we did our best to send our children to school with plastic plates to eat breakfast and lunch on, and a few pens and exercise books. My wife and I left the camps and returned to our land, allowing us to farm. We continued to farm and we had more children over the years. We made money by selling the crops we grew and provided for our family.
I wanted my children to have a better
Francis at the school
Francis at the school
future than me. Despite being poor, I wanted to give my children the best that I could.
I always attended the school meetings that we were called to with IGF teachers, and we discussed so much with the school regarding the school’s development. I remember them inviting us the parents to become more involved with the school. They shared their plans to provide even better education in the school and how it was a collective responsibility for all of us.
Many parents and I liked the idea, although some parents did not; they wanted IGF to continue offering completely free education to their children.
At the end of one meeting in 2013, many parents came to agreement which was then implemented. We all agreed there is need to own the school and get more involved in the affairs of the school, including sharing some of the costs through a small parent’s contribution. Now that the war had ended, and the community is slowly recovering and developing, we felt that we as parents needed to be more involved in our children’s education. The contribution was first hard for my wife and I to adjust to, but after setting aside some money we made our small parent’s contribution to the school. After the third term holiday of 2013, I came to school to check on my girls’ performances as I usually did and found a lot of change at the school, and also in my children’s results. I was amazed at what was going on.
We were later called by IGF for an accountability meeting. They told us that we had contributed lots money and part of it was used to build the new classroom block, buying tables and chairs for the students to use in class, and also some textbooks.
I left fully satisfied of what my money was being used for. I felt like I owned the school and I was doing my responsibility to make it better. We as parents agreed that other forms of contribution (such as foodstuffs or volunteer labor) could be contributed. I have now brought all my children to IGF primary school and know that this is the best school for them.”
A small parent’s contribution was introduced at all IGF schools in 2013 after a number of in-depth discussions held with all parents of IGF children. The small contribution is given by parents at the beginning of each term. The introduction of the parent’s contribution has shown a large increase in the involvement of parents in their child’s education. Research from around the world has shown that when parents, guardians or families get personally involved in education, their children do better in school and grow up to be more successful in life.
Just as Francis Ojok stated, agreement has been made that the contribution can be in non-monetary forms, such as in giving food, produce, or volunteering time/labour. Furthermore, no child is turned away from an IGF school if their parent/guardian is unable to make a contribution. The money raised by the parents/guardians is used for making tables and chairs for the students to use in the classrooms, the building of new classrooms, and the buying of essential textbooks.
Parent/guardian involvement in the education of their children, together with the support of donors and sponsors, is providing better educational opportunities and success for these children at IGF.