Primary Schools reopen after almost 2 years
The new school year began on 10th January 2022, with the full reopening of all 4 of our primary schools. It was wonderful to welcome all of the children back after so long! The classrooms and playgrounds were buzzing with children and teachers excited to be back at school.
In line with recommendations by the Ugandan Ministry of Education, parents were given the choice as to whether they pushed their child to the next class level, or to repeat the class they began in 2020, considering lower-level classes had not attended in almost 2 years. To manage this, our teachers offered remedial classes for the first few weeks to allow the pupils to refresh and catch up on the essentials before moving to the next class curriculum.
All of our schools have experienced increased enrolment. The increase in numbers is across all class levels, but particularly in the lower classes. The children that were unable to begin school in 2021, have now started together with the children that reached school-going age this year.
This year we have enrolled 3,823 pupils in the nursery and primary schools. An increase of almost 600 pupils compared to the beginning of 2020.
Many families are still doing it tough after their livelihoods were severely impacted during the pandemic, and the additional support services at IGF schools such as feeding and medical care are in great need. Although IGF primary schools encourage a small contribution from parent/guardians to contribute to their child’s education, this is substantially less than school fees charged by other schools in the district, making IGF schools attractive to struggling families. Given the need in the community, we cannot turn children away.
The increased need however, is putting pressure on our limited resources. We have recruited additional teachers in order to keep class sizes more manageable, and need to increase the supply of food for breakfast and lunch each school day.
To reduce class sizes and create a more conducive environment for learning, we are in need of more desks and chairs for the pupils to sit on.
We have our carpentry students in the technical institute who can make the desks as part of their practical training. We just need to buy the wood and materials. The materials to construct a 3-seater desk are AUD$48.
Getting the children sitting at desks rather than on the floor will make a big difference to their learning experience in the classroom. The carpentry students will also gain valuable training to improve their skills. To help equip our primary schools with more desks, please choose ‘Primary Education’ via our donation form.
100 Adolescents and Young Women Undertake 3 months of Non-Formal Training
For the past 2 months, 100 vulnerable adolescent girls and young women have been undertaking non-formal training in tailoring and hairdressing at IGF’s Technical Institute, in partnership with PACE (Programme for Accessible Health, Communication and Education) and TASO (The Aids Support Organisation).
The 3 month course will equip the young women with skills to enable income generation and employment. There are 69 young women completing training in tailoring while the remaining 31 are learning hair dressing techniques.
Some of the beneficiaries are young/teenage mothers, with many of them having dropped out before completing primary school. The young mothers have been coming to the institute together with their babies each day, so an informal child day-care has been set up so the mothers can focus on their classes.
Susan is one of the students undertaking training in tailoring. She had dropped out of grade 5 at primary school in her home village after her parents could no longer afford her school fees. Due to her age and lack of education, she was being pushed towards early teenage marriage. Susan resisted, knowing the challenges she would face in future.
Susan said that she is grateful to be involved in this program and to be learning skills that will enable her to be productive and earn an income support herself into the future.
Over the dry season (December to February), we took advantage of the weather and moved ahead with clearing 100 of the 300 acres of farmland. This involved the removal of fallen trees, tree stumps and large ant hills, in preparation for ploughing of the land for maize planting in late March.
The dry weather and good road access also allowed us to continue construction of the tractor shed and begin the construction of the new piggery housing on the new farm. Currently the pigs are housed on IGF’s small farm in Kitgum, and will be relocated to the new housing when complete.
Our pig population has now grown to 95, after the birth of 32 piglets during January. The plan is to sell about 20 pigs by early April.
March is another big month on the farm, with the ploughing of the land in preparation for maize planting, and ongoing construction of the new piggery housing to accommodate a larger number of pigs.
Newest Admissions to Infant Nutrition Program
At 5 months old Baby Innocent weighed only 3kg. His young mother has not been able to produce breast milk to feed him, and this degree of malnutrition has put him at very high risk.
Baby Innocent and his mother were admitted here in our infant nutrition program in early January, where they are supported with appropriate nutritional support and medical care. Already we are seeing improvements in the health of both Baby Innocent and his mother.
In mid-February we received 1 month old baby Samuel. He is a healthy 4kg. His mother sadly died soon after giving birth in hospital, and he was brought to IGF by relatives for feeding support.
Baby Samuel will continue to be cared for at home by family members while receiving support through IGF’s infant nutrition program.
In many of these situations where the mother has died or she struggles to produce breastmilk, the family members will often try feeding the infant with cow’s milk, watery maize porridge or even sugar mixed with water. The cost of infant formula is very expensive and often not an option due to financial limitations of the families. The families soon find that the infant is not thriving and seek help.
The support provided through IGF’s infant nutrition program is tailored to the individual child and their situation. Some situations require full care of the infant, including the hiring of a carer that is individually assigned to the infant. Some infants are admitted into the program with their mothers, where accommodation, feeding and so on is provided to both the mother and child, until the child has reached key milestones and is reintegrated back home.
Some infants receive support in more of an out-patient arrangement, where they receive nutritional provisions from IGF but live at home with family.
We currently have 11 infants benefitting from the infant nutrition program. These interventions are costly but essential to saving the lives of infants like Baby Innocent and Samuel. Our current costs in the infant nutrition program are AUD$1,050 per month.
If you can help, tax-deductible donations can be made through our secure donation form.
1st Graduation Ceremony of Kitgum Business Institute
IGF’s Kitgum Business Institute (KBI) seeks to increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant business skills for employment and entrepreneurship. The institute held its first graduation ceremony on 15th January 2022, with 70 students awarded Diplomas and Certificates in various disciplines.
The institute was registered by IGF with the Ugandan Ministry of Education in 2015. Previously it was a department under the IGF Technical Institute – a skills development institute that was established by Mama Irene Gleeson (RIP) as an intervention to rehabilitate the youths and adults whose livelihoods had been ruined by the LRA insurgency.
As an accredited institute, KBI offers holistic and creative approaches to training in Accounting, Marketing, Business Administration, Journalism, IT, and Procurement & Logistics. Students are able to attain nationally recognised qualifications at the Certificate and Diploma levels.
According to statistics, Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over 78 percent of its population below the age of 30. The country also has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. The establishment of an accredited institution in Kitgum has provided students in this region an opportunity to attain quality business education for employment and entrepreneurship, while also contributing to the sustainable development of the community and region.
The 1st graduation ceremony on 15th January was a wonderful occasion celebrated by graduates, their families, lecturers and staff.
The Principal, Denish Olanya, highlighted to the guests and students about the high employment rates of our graduates, with over 75% of students securing employment within 6 months of finishing their courses. He also spoke about the importance of partnerships, and the valuable relationships with local businesses who provide our students with places to complete their internships.
Our Chief Guest for the occasion, Dr Elizabeth Dunlop from Australia, congratulated the graduating students, their families and wider support networks. She encouraged the students to make plans for their futures and emphasised the importance of hard work, dedication and humility.
She gave the graduates two key pieces of advice:
- Always be willing to learn new things and continue to develop your skills and knowledge
- Put God first in everything you do. Don’t only praise God when you are receiving your blessings, but also praise Him during your struggles. Bring God into all of your decisions and plans.
We congratulate all graduates and their families, their lecturers, and everyone involved in supporting them to this milestone of graduation!
In the new semester which started at the beginning of 2022, we currently have 105 students enrolled in Certificate and Diploma courses.