Uganda Humanists have worked hard to establish schools with an explicitly humanist ethos. My webinar with American Humanist Association (AHA) members in 2021, described the work of Peter Kisirinya at Isaac Newton Humanist School. The school was set up in 2005, at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to help orphan children and has gone on to enhance the life chances of generations of children in a poor rural community. An article in TheHumanist.com earlier this year, described how Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (UHST) raised funds to construct the first brick-built primary school for the traumatized community of Katumba village near the Congo border, where over 100 fathers were killed in communal fighting in 2016. The school adopted the AHA’s Ten Commitments as its guiding principles. It now educates 700 children, who had no previous access to schooling.
Since 2019, UHST has financed a new school in Kanungu (also near the Congo border), which experienced a horrible cult killing of 800 men, women, and children, who were poisoned and burnt to death in a locked church. In 2021 UHST purchased two failed primary schools, one evangelical Christian and the other Muslim, to create inclusive primary sections in each of our two high schools. The schools we support are committed to the humanist ethos, are affiliated with Uganda Humanist Schools Association, are registered non-profits, and have ring-fenced bank accounts which are annually audited by UHST accountants. The four new primary schools will need support until they become established, to pay their teachers, provide school meals, and bring their infrastructure up to standard.
There are fifteen Humanist Schools in Uganda, at various stages of development. We would like to help other schools but do not want to spread our funds too thinly. Before COVID struck in 2020, our two established high schools each enrolled over 600 children and were achieving decent standards of education in a caring setting. These schools had risen to a rating of fifth out of thirty-five schools in their Districts, and Isaac Newton School ranked fortieth of 3,600 high schools in Uganda for post-primary value-added.
However, in the past two years the schools have faced extraordinary challenges. Livelihoods were devastated by the strict COVID lockdown and family savings were exhausted. The people we serve now face food shortages and high prices caused by climate-change-induced drought and high fuel prices caused by the Russian war on Ukraine. Many parents have fallen into substantial arrears with their children’s school fees and schools struggle to pay teachers and buy food for children’s meals.
The schools provide inclusive education based on reason, compassion and tolerance. They were beginning to become beacons for humanism in Uganda and internationally, but the current crisis threatens their very existence. If humanists around the world come together to help them, then UHST can see them through their current challenges, and ensure that the huge efforts they have made over almost two decades have not gone to waste.
UHST helps all the schools by providing funds for items including: books; science and other learning resources; water; sanitation (handwashing and toilets); sanitary pads; dormitories for boarding needy orphans; sports, arts, dance, and music equipment; and school field trips. The focus of this appeal is to raise funds to help the Uganda Humanist Schools financially through to 2023, by which time we hope that economic conditions and school fee income will have recovered.
Regular monthly payments are particularly helpful as they enable USHT to send regular monthly sums to the primary schools to underpin their running costs until they become self-sustaining.
You can find additional information on the UHST Donate Page. All donations will be acknowledged and we will, if you choose, send periodic updates on the schools’ progress. Updates are also posted in the News section of our website: ugandahumanistschoolstrust.org.