Kasiisi Primary School Opens in Uganda -Kasiisi/Kanyawara School Building Project

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In the Kabarole district of Uganda, the prospect of education has not always been a reality for the children of rural subsistence farmers. Prior to 1997, the Batoro people’s Kasiisi primary school was crowded, dirty, and flea-infested. Children were not prepared, nor could their families afford, to continue further schooling, and teachers lacked the resources to acquire necessary training.The Batoro, who live on Uganda’s western border south of Lake Albert, comprise three percent of the country’s population.

 

In 1997, the Kasiisi/Kanyawara School Building Project (KKSBP), was started to provide clean, safe schools and a high-quality education for some of the children of subsistence farming families living around Kibale Forest National Park. Since then, the Batoro people have seen promising changes in their villages. In 2000 the project received a boost when it became a Cultural Survival Special Project.

 

The project team in Uganda is currently building two schools—one in Kasiisi and one in Kanyawara—and is providing students and teachers with scholarships to continue their education. In addition the project is collaborating in a program of conservation initiated by the Kibale Chimpanzee Project and supported by the Jane Goodall Institute Uganda.

 

Although the classrooms for Kasiisi’s 1,000 students still need interior construction work, the exterior of the buildings are finished. In addition to the classrooms, the administrative block (consisting of a library, staff room, and office complex) officially opened this summer. Representatives of the district education office, school inspectors, and local and national government members attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which featured speeches, dancing, and singing. Kasiisi recently began a Girl Scout program, and 20 girls have joined one of two troops. KKSBP has also provided six new graduates of Kasiisi with secondary school scholarships, and the project continues to fund and assist scholars from previous years.

 

At Kanyawara, where Oduchu Michael was the first graduate to receive a secondary school scholarship this year, the work continues. “We are still building like mad,” said Project Coordinator Elizabeth Ross, “and there’s a long way to go.” They have completed two new classrooms and converted an old classroom into a head teacher’s office and staff room. The progress is exciting, Ross said, but Kanyawara now has 500 students and the school needs money to buy more land to expand.

 

Although construction costs consume much of the KKSBP’s funding, scholarships for students and teachers are an increasingly important aspect of the project, which has provided 16 secondary school scholarships since 1997. KKSBP also offers teaching scholarships, which allow educators to go back to school at a cost of $120 per person per term and improve their qualifications. Not only will this scholarship program benefit the students, but it will also attract high-quality teachers to the school in the future.

 

Kate O’Mara is a Cultural Survival intern. For more information or to make a contribution to the Kasiisi/Kanyawara School Building Project, contact Elizabeth Ross by e-mail, wrangham@comcast.net, or by phone at (781) 894-0130.

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