Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (UHST) was established in 2008 as a charity to raise funds in support of the efforts made by Ugandan Humanists, to found and support schools that offer students a liberal, secular, humanist education in Uganda. Five schools are now in operation, including Katumba Parents’ Humanist Primary School in Bundibugyo, which was founded in 2014 by a group of area parents.
All UHST schools teach the Uganda national curriculum and prepare students for public examinations. At the same time, they aim to develop self-confident students who care for each other and their local communities. The schools encourage students to be open-minded and questioning. They are taught to respect evidence and to appreciate the need for shared human values. In order to foster a spirit of understanding, students are introduced to both religious (as required by the national curriculum) and secular humanist life stances.
Recently, parents and teachers at Katumba Parents’ Humanist Primary School joined together to form a Parent-Teachers Association (PTA), an important landmark in the school’s development. The school has chosen to place the American Humanist Association’s Ten Commitments at the forefront of its efforts to promote positive humanist values in the school and the wider community.
The Ten Commitments even adorn the front wall of the school building. Katumba and other humanist schools in Uganda are finding that local people embrace this inclusive statement of humanist values, whatever their religious or personal beliefs are, and view the Ten Commitments as an excellent template for a good school and a good society.
The Trust’s blog recently posted an account of the launch of Katumba Humanist School’s Parent-Teacher Association, quoting School Director Juma Irumba Siriwayo:
“Today for sure was a joyful and interesting day in the history of the new Katumba Humanist Nursery and Primary School.
Amos Bandaliza a retired primary school head teacher was elected as our PTA committee Chair. In his acceptance speech to the parents and media team, Amos promised to ensure that academic performance and collaboration between teachers and parents were enhanced in the school.
For my part, I presented the newly-elected chairperson with the school’s Humanist values and our Humanist code of conduct, which each teacher must sign when they join the school. I thoroughly explained the implications of Katumba’s Humanist Ethos for the day-to-day conduct of teachers and children. Parents showed a great willingness to support the school’s Humanist values.
I outlined the tremendous support that Katumba had received from Uganda Humanist Schools Trust and read out a speech from Steve Hurd, Chair of UHST, who was unable to travel due to Covid restrictions. The speech explained to parents that UHST is strongly committed to building the school up to a high standard in terms of buildings, facilities, staff support, books and learning materials. Steve congratulated everyone involved with Katumba Humanist School on the progress that has been made over the past 2 years. He intends that Uganda Humanist Schools Trust will be a good friend and partner to the Katumba Community for years to come.”
UHST schools are inclusive and do not discriminate on grounds of religion, social or ethnic background. The schools aim to offer an effective, caring and distinctive learning environment for children in deprived rural areas, which respects:
- freedom of thought and expression;
- rational enquiry, science and the need to support argument with evidence;
- human rights, gender and racial equality, and the rights of individuals to choose their personal life stance;
- high levels of achievement and social responsibility.