Mar 18, 2020

Tough times - but we keep giving our all!

Evelyn, parent at Gulu Town P/S & businesswoman
Evelyn, parent at Gulu Town P/S & businesswoman

Hello ‘Backup to our Backup’,

We have entered a new (school) year, and as we all know, it has not been an easy one so far. We hope you are all well and taking the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe!

As we are writing this, there has not been any confirmed case of Covid-19 in Uganda yet, and (school) life is moving on as usual - with a number of extra hygiene measures in place, of course. We are keeping a close eye on updates coming from the Uganda government - the Ministry of Health in particular - to ensure we are following all directives given. If schools end up being closed and our movements are limited, we will continue with all other work we can do - from our brand new office at The Innovation Village in Gulu, or from our homes.

Since the beginning of the school year, we have been able to make a strong start at our new partner primary schools and primary teachers college. As of school term 1 of 2020, we have started a partnership with Christ the King Demonstration Primary School, Mary Immaculate Primary School, St. Joseph’s Primary School, and Christ the King Primary Teachers College. So far, we have had the opportunity to meet the teachers at the primary schools at least twice. Once, to introduce our project to the entire school team, and the second time to begin our first workshop on learning difficulties. At Christ the King PTC, we were able to kick off training sessions with the second-year student teachers just before they started their school practise at the surrounding primary schools - their first time teaching an entire class!

As we are building these new collaborations, we are not forgetting our previous partner schools. In fact, we have started developing something new together with the school teams: by the end of 2020, each school will have its own Inclusive Education Committee (IEC). Each IEC is responsible for running all activities related to inclusive education within the school. This includes developing individualized support plans together with teachers, referring children and parents to experts for further diagnostics and support, and much more. This means that within a short time, schools will no longer need backup from Backup! That’s exactly what we are aiming for: an independent, inclusive education system.

Starting from April, we are thrilled to be expanding our team with two trainees under the fresh and new Frostig Traineeship Program. Thanks to Frostig School in Pasadena, California (USA), we have the opportunity to hire two recent Ugandan graduates in a special needs related course for a full year of working and learning at Backup Uganda. Our trainees will be engaged fulltime in the workshops and meetings we offer in the schools and communities we work with.

Did we just say communities? That’s right, we are taking our work beyond the schools this year! We are planning to hold community meetings and radio talk shows about learning difficulties, to help us reach everyone within the communities around our partner schools. This will help build an even stronger support system for children who experience these difficulties, wherever they go. Due to the Corona virus, we may have to be patient until we can hold the community meetings, but radio talk shows are an excellent way to spread information without having to bring many people together in the same location. 

Starting next week (23-27 March), we will be raising funds during GlobalGiving’s Little by Little campaign to hold the first talk shows as soon as possible. We aim to raise $800, and GlobalGiving is making this easier for all of us by matching each donation up to $50 with 50% of the donated amount! We would love for you to be part of this, so keep an eye on our social media pages to be reminded of this campaign.

That’s all for now, dear friend! We appreciate your continuous support, and we hope these updates help you see the impact you are making. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you may have! We would love to hear from you.

Stay safe and healthy,

The Backup Uganda Team

Our brand new team outfit!
Our brand new team outfit!
Christ the King PTC & Backup are ready to work
Christ the King PTC & Backup are ready to work
Dec 28, 2019

The end of a decade - the start of a new phase!

Feedback moment for student teachers & our trainer
Feedback moment for student teachers & our trainer

Hello dear friend,

And just like that, a new decade is around the corner… We hope your festive season has been wonderful so far, and if you celebrated Christmas, we hope it was a happy one! Christmas in Gulu has been joyful, filled with friends, family, and delicious meals. We are writing to you during our Christmas break - schools have closed, and so has our office, until 5th January. We are enjoying a well-deserved rest after a more than successful school year! Thanks to you, we managed to work with a primary teachers college for the first time, plus 3 new primary schools in Gulu. And as you know, that’s not all: we’ve had the pleasure of adding several new partner organizations to our list as well. Grateful does not begin to describe it!

During the final school term of the year, we had the chance to follow up on Gulu Core PTC’s student teachers during their final school practice of 2019. This meant our team got to observe their actual teaching and guide them on how they could make their lessons as inclusive as possible. The student teachers’ enthusiasm has not ceased to amaze us. And, the best part: they got to experience that inclusive teaching works! We are positive that this will encourage them to use their new knowledge and skills in this area once they become ‘real’ teachers as well.

Actually, finishing the school year came with even more uplifting experiences on top of this one. It was the time for end of year evaluations with our partner primary schools as well. We have listened to a great number of impactful moments and lessons learned, from teachers, learners, and administrators, and there is one we would like to highlight:

At Gulu Town Primary School, one of the math teachers shared a simple but life changing switch in his teaching approach. He explained how he used to follow a rule he created for himself: only use one example for the class when you are teaching a new topic. He did this, to make sure he would be able to finish teaching all the required topics within the limited time he had. You can imagine that this would only serve the quickest learners in the class, and leave many others behind. After the first couple of workshops that we held at his school, he decided to do an experiment: prepare 3 examples for a new topic, explain the first example to all children, let the learners who understand the first example continue with independent work, and use the remaining 2 examples to get the rest of the class up to speed. He shared with us that while it now takes him more time to teach new topics, the level of understanding among his learners has improved tremendously. And, this has actually made introducing additional topics easier!

We love ‘backing up’ teachers like him on the way to more inclusive education, and we will continue to do so in 2020. In fact, we will be adding another primary teachers college as well as 3 more partner primary schools to our program! That means we will be active in both primary teachers colleges in Gulu. One of the reasons we are able to grow, is because of your consistent contributions to our work. On Giving Tuesday earlier this month, you made it possible for us to purchase additional laptops for our growing team! Together, we raised an impressive $1,268 in just one day! We are looking forward to adding several people to our team in the first months of 2020, so we couldn’t be more happy to be able to let them hit the ground running.

2019 has been an amazing one, and we may be repeating our words, but we know we would not be where we are without you. We wish you the most wonderful, happy & healthy new year, and we hope you will continue to be with us in the new decade.

Much love,

The Backup Uganda Team

Student teacher in action!
Student teacher in action!
Oct 7, 2019

Little by Little made A LOT towards our work!

The excitement about Little by Little was REAL!
The excitement about Little by Little was REAL!

Hi there,

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That’s how we want to start this report, because it covers exactly what our team feels like: grateful! You probably remember seeing our posts, emails and messages about August’s Little by Little campaign. We were raising funds to cover all our remaining training sessions for this year. The campaign with matching funds only ran for 5 days, so we were a little anxious to see if we would be able to reach our $1,032 goal that fast. Well, it turned out 3 days were enough for that, unbelievable! If you made this happen by contributing, by sharing our posts, or in any other way, then please remember that it was YOU who made it possible for us to finish the 2019 school year.

With this in mind, our team was able to finish term 2 and start the last school term of the year without worries. We closed term 2 with learning & evaluation meetings at every one of our partner schools. These are our major feedback moments during the school year, both for the teachers and for our team. For example, during the first of these meetings at the end of term 1, we listened to the barriers that are holding back the teachers from using the skills they learn from us during the training sessions. While they have been telling us that they see the training content as useful, sometimes specific circumstances make it difficult to actually use it to help children with possible learning difficulties. Talking about these barriers and continuously exploring how to move around or beyond them, empowers the teachers AND our team at the same time. We could not be doing what we do - and we would not be doing it right - if we did not listen to the very people we work with.

Term 3 is bringing us exciting times, mainly because the student teachers at Gulu Core Primary Teachers College will be going for their second school practise! That means we will get to observe them while they are putting all their knowledge and skills to work in their future work environment: the classroom. We are sure they are a little nervous, and to be honest, we cannot wait either. After all our joint training sessions, we finally get to see them bringing theory and practise to life as teachers. As their supervisors move between the different primary schools to check in on them, we will be doing the same with a focus on identifying and supporting children with possible learning difficulties. From term 1, we remember that the student teachers were quite appreciative of our presence and feedback, so we are looking forward to being their ‘Backup’ one more time before they graduate.

This third term also brings us closer to the end of the school year and the start of the long Christmas break (Jingle Bells, anyone?). We still have a good number of training sessions, lesson observations and other joint activities planned with our partner primary schools, Gulu Core PTC, and several of our partner organizations. For example, we will be observing lessons taught by the teachers at Shalom Primary School - a private partner primary school - and by Geneva Global’s speed school facilitators as well. Our social media pages give you regular, brief updates if you are interested, so follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Linkedin for that! But, before the end of the year, you will receive another update through this platform too. Please feel free to be in touch with us if there is anything you want to know or say, we love hearing from you!

Much love from Gulu,

The Backup Uganda Team

We are beyond proud of teachers like Jackie!
We are beyond proud of teachers like Jackie!
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.