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The Luzira Church of Uganda Primary School is located in Luzira, a neighborhood of Uganda’s capital city Kampala. Close to Port Bell, 24 teachers educate about 950 boys and girls in only twelve classrooms. In 2008, a Dutch couple showed a compasion for the school. Ever since they are using their capabilities to improve the quality of the school’s properties. In collaboration with the teachers and the local craftsmen the aim is to provide for better education facilities for both the pupils and the teachers.
In 2007 the improvements started on basis of a project plan, written by the former head teacher of the school. She explained that since the introduction of the so-called Universal Primary Education (UPE) act in 1997 no significant developments had taken place. The UPE act intended to provide “full tuition to 4 children per household” (OSSREA; see links). Although in Uganda the gross enrollment increased due to the UPE, primary education was not made compulsory “nor entirely free, since parents were still expected to pay fees, and contribute pens, exercise books and clothing” (ODI; see links). The Luzira Church of Uganda Primary School could not benefit from the UPE and was in need of external aid.
In the project plan the head teacher requested for assistance to improve on the school’s fence, repainting, repair and purchase of more pupil’s furniture since a part of the kids had to sit on the ground. Furthermore, they were longing for extra classrooms and improvements of the staff houses which were situated on the school’s premises, belonging to the nearby located Church of Uganda.
The ‘Luzira school Uganda project’ is a great example of private development aid as no large or professional organizations are involved. Those who add their funds – small or large – to the Dutch Luzira school Uganda foundation are assured that their money is invested for 100% in the project.
Furthermore, one of the principles the foundation (which is run only by the Dutch couple) employs is prior to investment discussing with the teachers what is needed for the school. The teachers know exactly which developments are necessary and besides they have the knowledge where to buy the materials and to hire the craftsmen.
Currently the foundation and some of the teachers are working on three sub-projects. A proposal is requested from those teachers who are individually responsible for a plan with respect to education equipment (books), sanitary facilities (the toilets) and the staff housing. This approach empowers them to think about what is really necessary as the available budget is limited; they are stimulated to think about the details of their plan. And as a result of their involvement the risk is reduced to ensure investments are made without local techniques and knowledge.
Besides the actual developments, in total about 40 children are sponsored by people in the Netherlands. The sponsor pays the yearly school fee and has the option to pay for extra lessons. In return the school’s secretary sends the children’s report on a regularly basis via e-mail.
The Luzira Church of Uganda Primary School was established in 1940. It is founded by the Church of Uganda that is located on the plot next to the school. In the School Management Committee several church members have a seat. The church’ reverend is in close contact with the head teacher.
The church and the school are located in Luzira which is a neighborhood with casual workers that on average have low salaries. As a consequence, parents cannot pay the stipulated school fees as set by the government.
The Luzira neighborhood is closely located to Port Bell at Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water lake. The lakeside is ideal for mosquitos which makes Luzira less popular for those who can afford properties closer to the city center that is higher up the hills. Nevertheless Luzira is developing into a suburb: market vendors and craftsmen are doing business everywhere, but ‘real’ shops with relatively expensive products appear as well. You can have proper dinner (chips, chicken & tomatoes) and there are several ATM machines.
Only half of the teachers lives in Luzira, of which about 8 of them live in the staff houses at the school’s premises. Some of them have their homes at the other side of Kampala and as a result they have to travel in traffic jam in Africa’s well-known taxi buses.
Despite there is no ‘spectacular’ architecture in this project it is worth to know the local techniques and materials.
The school buildings are made of bricks and clay. The walls are finished with plaster that is painted in lively white and pink colors. The roof structures are made from timber and are thatched with iron sheets. There is no intermediate layer or ceiling which results in a cooler climate in the classes as the wind blows in through small openings higher up the walls.
Rainwater is collected with rain pipes connected to water tanks that can be filled up to 4000 liters. The children drink the water, the cooks tap it for boiling rice and anybody can use it to wash hands after going to the loo.
Around the buildings is a veranda of concrete constructed in order to prevent the walls from being eroded by the water as rainfall can be very heavy. The classroom windows can be covered with wooden shutters and iron bars prevending children from peeping in and out. Due to overdue maintenance of the roofs rain drips in as a result of leakage of the iron sheets. Although buckets are placed to capture the water, it is hard for the pupils and teachers to concentrate.
A part of all project plans is that techniques are local, which means that only Ugandan craftsmen are hired. The head teacher or the deputy head teachers who live at the church’ premises know those workers for their reputation. They advise the Dutch foundation on who to hire.
Uganda is located at the equator and most of the country is characterised by a tropical climate. Due to rainfall and the city’s altitude the climate in Kampala is pleasant: 25 to 30 degrees Celsius during day time. Rainy seasons are from March to May and in November and from the direction of Lake Victoria heavy thunders can enter Kampala.
In times of (heavy) rain the water tanks of the school are filled up whereas during dry seasons the tanks are going empty. If so the tap on the central square is opened. Consequently water bills are high(er).
During rainy seasons the little garden blooms but during dry season the dust and sand is everywhere as the garden is not watered.