Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH

 
$156,743
$41,817
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Frederike, a volunteer from Germany with students.
Frederike, a volunteer from Germany with students.

At Arlington Academy of Hope's (AAH) operations in rural Uganda, it's been a busy few months! 

We had an increased emphasis on STEM subjects this year. This year, we were fortunate to have over 70 volunteers from the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and more come volunteer at the school. They are able to help the teachers by, for example, working with individual students and small groups who need a little extra help.  They also bring new techniques and energy to the classroom, so we keep improving. (Want a life-changing experience? Consider volunteering in Uganda!)

The school year ended last week, and our students, teachers, and staff are on a well deserved school break. 

At our primary school, seventh graders spent the last several months studying long days and weekends to prepare to take the highly competitive national Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) which determines whether students graduate primary school and continue on to secondary school (high school). 

We also assisted a number of underresourced local schools to prepare their seventh graders for the PLE as well.  They took the PLE recently and are awaiting results, which determine if and where they will go on to secondaty school. Once the seventh graders hear results, they only have a few short weeks to report to secondary school.  There's a reason the AAH school is in the top 1% of schools nationwide -- the teachers and the students work incredibly hard! 

As our seventh graders prepared to leave primary school, we just finished selecting the new first grade class that will start late Jan-Feb when the new school year begins. They are enthusiastic, energetic, and beaming from ear to ear!  We can only take a portion of those who apply, and families camped out for days on the road to the school just for a chance to intervew for a slot in first grade.  The schools's success has changed many parents' minds about the value of an education, and how it can change lives for the student and his or her family.

Our second group of secondary school graduates are keeping busy at university.

Thank you for making it possible for the children to go to school. You are truly tansforming lives and giving them a real chance for a better future.

Grace, on a Teen Service Trip, reads with a child
Grace, on a Teen Service Trip, reads with a child
AAH held a race in Uganda and in the US in Nov.
AAH held a race in Uganda and in the US in Nov.
Sangya, from Univ of Pitt, tutored students
Sangya, from Univ of Pitt, tutored students
AAH donated math supplies to local schools
AAH donated math supplies to local schools
Thank you for making a child
Thank you for making a child's education possible!
Community service by volunteers and students
Community service by volunteers and students

While June-August is traditionally school vacation for primary school students in the U.S., in Uganda, schools have three terms with shorter breaks throughout the year.  At the Arlington Academy of Hope's (AAH) school in rural Uganda, students were busy learning and studying.  We had volunteers this summer from several countries, and they assited teachers, tutored children, and managed to squeeze in a little playtime at recess!

The Reading Challenge was kicked off with the help of visiting volunteers from the U.S. and Europe.  This is an exciting time of year, as students read at least 50 books each, and many read lots more.  There were also math challenges this year, to help demonstrate that math can be fun.

In July,  AAH celebrated its 10th Anniversary...ten years of transforming lives in rural Uganda by performing community service qnd helping out at nearby schools. .While we have had challenges, we have also had extraordinary success as measured by test scores, graduation rates, and acceptance at secondary school and university, and want to share this with others.

In August, our second class of secondary school graduates headed off to university!  One of the students is even studying to become a doctor.  This is an amazing feat for a humble rural school! 

Recognizing the suceess AAH has had academically, the Govrnment selected AAH to host a National Conference on how to improve public schools nationwide.  We were honored to be recognized as a model of what works, and delighted to have over 100 visitors for the day. 

Next quarter, 7th graders will take the all-important national standardized Primary Leaving Exam (PLE) to determine if they can go on to secondary school, so both 6th and 7th graders (and their teachers) have been putting in long hours of preparation.  This month, we will also be helping students at over 20 public schools be better prepared for the PLE by sharing practice tests and me=aterials with them. 

To our supporters, you cannot imagine how many heartwarming notes and messages we get from the students thanking you for changing their lives and giving them a future!  Thank you!

Students visit the US Embassy resource center
Students visit the US Embassy resource center
A student
A student's artwork for the 10th Anniversary!
Kicking off the Reading Challenge
Kicking off the Reading Challenge
students hard at work!
students hard at work!

Links:

Studying math
Studying math

Mark your calendar! June 25th at noon EDT, Microsoft will give a 100% match on your donations to AAH made on this Global Giving website.  Please join us on June 25th at 12pm.  Please share this opportunity with your friends, as every donation matters!  


This year is our 10th Anniversary, and with your support, much has been accomplished!  There have been challenges and adjustments along the way, but that is part of the learning process and part of development.


Primary School.  Our school is in the top 2% of more than 19,000 primary schools nationwide. We’ve been busy both at our primary school in a tiny mountain village in Uganda, as well as at the nearby local schools we lend a hand to.  We can only accept a fraction of the students who apply to our school and local schools are often in dire condition. In addition, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our model by helping local schools interested in reform to improve their performance.  We have provided school supplies, teacher training, girls mentoring, and in some cases, teamed with partners to build classrooms in order to reduce class size.  We give scholarships to the top students at area schools we work with, as an incentive to their students.

There has been more emphasis on math at the school, as this is a growing need in the job market these young students will eventually be in. In order to give the students a strong foundation for secondary school and beyond, we are strengthening math and science. The AAH Annual Reading Challenge this year incorporates math and reading.  The summer reading challenge is a big event at our school, and the children will each read at least 50 books and complete 5 math activities.  The school participated in World Read Aloud Day, to encourage reading. AAH students read to lower grades, to local schools, and at nursery schools.

In April-May, we welcomed teams from Lasell College and Marymount University who did teacher training, helped introduce new teaching techniques and activities, did girls mentoring workshops, and helped teachers and students prepare for the all-important Primary Leaving Examination (PLE). In Uganda, it is not automatic that students continue on to secondary school after 7th grade; students must pass a competitive national standardized examination (the PLE). The assistance of Marymount and Lasell has an impact in boosting morale and skills at local schools, and building self-esteem. For example, we measure the impact of PLE training by testing students before the training, then testing them again after the training sessions and practice. There is a definite increase in scores – not just immediately after the training but also months latter when the students take the actual exam. We believe this is one of our more important “outreach” activities because it empowers students continue their studies after 7th grade, when primary school ends.  

We aim to give all our students the where-with-all to succeed. The class was full but we could not turn away Amos, who lost an arm and a leg to an attack by a pig.  He will have special challenges as he grows, and we knew local schools wouldn't have the resources to help him.  He more than keeps up with the other children, inc. dancing or playing at recess!

Secondary students. About 280 secondary students are studying hard at school.   On school breaks, they come back to the village and have access to tutors at our school. They also perform volunteer service, which is something we emphasize. For those students who completed secondary school last December and do not start university until August, we have created a program where they serve as teacher’s aides in local schools. We also had secondary school graduates gaining experience at the health clinic. We provide a stipend and orientation, and they gain some “real life” work experience that builds their CVs and will ultimately make them more competitive in the job market.

One secondary student, Justine, did so well in Girl Scouts at  school that her group won a national competition and even got to travel abroad for an African competiion! This has been great exposire for her, and her  leafership skills and self-confidence has really grown.

Tertiary education. Not all students will opt to go to university, and that is okay. Some will choose to go to a vocational school, nursing school, or teaching college. As each student chooses the path best for them, we recognize there are a number of valid options for gaining education and job skills.

Secondary student Justine excelled at Girl Scouts
Secondary student Justine excelled at Girl Scouts
World Read Aloud Day 2014
World Read Aloud Day 2014
Volunteer at a local school
Volunteer at a local school
Amos lost an arm and leg in a wild pig attack
Amos lost an arm and leg in a wild pig attack

Links:

a second grader enjoying an art activity
a second grader enjoying an art activity

Please consider supporting us April 16th at noon on GlobalGiving, when there will be a 50% match on your donation, and nonprofits including AAH will be competing for a $10,000 bonus!

The Ugandan school year starts in late January/early February, so our students are now back at school. We welcomed a new class of 50 first graders, always an exciting time at the school!  It is great to see all the students and teachers back, after a well deserved break. A grateful parent of a new first grader summed up what others said as well:

"It is a tremendous blessing to have this school here.  I know my daughter will have a future I could not have dreamed of." - Mary, parent of an Arlington student

AAH is in the top 2% nationwide!  We also got the results of the all-important exam given at the end of seventh grade, called the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE). This determines whether students are able to continue on to secondary school. (Secondary school is for six years and is roughly equivalent to high school plus two years of junior college in the U.S.)  

"My heart is full to think that I am the first in my family to go to secondary school. I will study hard so I can help my family and my community" - Sara, a new secondary student

We are thrilled to announce that once again, 100% of AAH seventh graders passed the Primary Leaving Examination and they have just commenced classes at their respective secondary schools, which are all boarding schools.  This puts AAH in the top 2% of more than 19,000 schools nationwide in terns of national standardized test results, a remarkable achievement for a modest rural school in a very poor area.  This is attributable to hard working students; amazing, dedicated teachers who put in long hours; and wonderful supporters like you! We are humbled and so very grateful for your support.

We stay in touch with our secondary students, helping them adjust to being away from home at school and look forward to welcoming them back over school breaks - when they perform community service as a way of giving back. 

New secondary students include 14 from local government schools which AAH assists.  We believe it is important to have outreach to local, poor public schools as a way to increase our impact. We offer teacher training, some supplies, PLE preparation and most importantly, the benefit of our experience in what works in primary education.  This includes having a Parent Teacher Association, emphasizing teacher and student attendance, providing a school lunch, etc.

Looking for a life changing experience?  Come volunteer with AAH in Uganda or in the U.S.!  We have openings for both volunteers and interns.  If interested, email info@aahuganda.org

Bridget has a great smile in the crowd at recess
Bridget has a great smile in the crowd at recess
Alex, a volunteer, loved time with the students
Alex, a volunteer, loved time with the students

In Uganda, the primary and secondary school year starts in Jan/Feb and has three terms.  The school year has just wrapped up.  Students in several grades are anxiously awaiting the results of national standardized testing.  For example, students in 7th grade recently took the all-important Primary Leaving Exam or PLE to determine whether they can continue on to secondary school.  Scores are grouped into four divisions, and these scores determine which schools students can get into.  Almost all secondary schools are boarding schools, so ti is a very big step for poor children from the village, going away to school.  We try and prepare the students through counseling and mentoring, to help them succeed in secondary school.

Students in the fourth grade of secondary school (S4) take exams as well, and those in the the sixth and last year of secondary (S6) have taken exams which will determine if they get into university and where. 

Our pioneer class has finished the first semester of university.

Nevertheless, there's activity at our school in Bududa.  Tutoring is offered for students needing a bit of extra help. The library is being utilized.  And computer classes have been offered in our modest computer lab.  Finally, there was a high volume of applicants to consider for our new first grade class (P1).  It is a difficult process, because so many families see the school as a way to give their children a future, and we can only take so many.  After carefully reviewing and interviewing all, the new incoming class has been chosen!  We are excited to greet the 51 beaming new faces next month!  Thanks to the help of donors, some children in the new class already has sponsors lined up! There are still some unsponsored primary students, and a larger number of unsponsored secondary students who need sponsors to be able to stay in school.  Many find sponsoring a child to be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience; we encourage you to visit www.aahuganda.org

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Organization

Project Leader

John Wanda

Co-founder
Arlington, VA Uganda

Where is this project located?

Map of Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH