Feb 20, 2018

Sustainability: key to Backup Uganda's success

Our office space: shiny and new!
Our office space: shiny and new!

Happy 2018, if you hadn’t heard from us yet! We are too excited about everything this year has in store for us, and about what we have in store for our partner schools. And guess what? We are not just working with partner schools anymore, but with partner organizations as well. All this from our brand new office space (much love to you if you donated towards this)!

We promised a more sustainable approach in setting up support for children with learning difficulties in Uganda, and that is exactly what we are in the middle of right now. Not by working directly with learners who experience these difficulties, but by equipping teachers, parents and school management teams with the knowledge and skills to do this. In the end, we want all schools in Uganda to be able to support these children without our help! That starts with choosing the right role to play as an organization.

Because of your donations, we have started 2018 with not just one, but two partner schools in Gulu: Gulu Primary School and Gulu PTC Demonstration School. The new school year has just begun in Uganda, so we have already had the first meetings with the school management teams to finalize our detailed plans for the year. Most of the children we worked with in 2016 and 2017 have returned to school by now, so we were able to catch up with them as well. We did the final literacy and numeracy tests with them to determine their progress and we are impressed! Okene, for example, was not able to read at all at the start of 2017. Although he still finds it difficult - who wouldn’t, if you have to start from zero - he is reading 16 words per minute at the moment!

Did you hear us say partner organizations? That’s right, even though the schools were closed for 2 months around the Christmas holidays, we partnered with Unified for Uganda and organized a holiday program for their secondary students. A popular term in Uganda is ‘read hard at school’, but how do you do this? We spent a full week together with 20 students focusing on their personal learning style, setting goals and planning accordingly, processing information for different subjects, and making the most helpful summaries. Their feedback: “Everyone who didn’t show up, missed out!”

We want to open up trainings like this to more students, so we are already planning for the May holidays! And not just for students...

Trainings for other education-based organizations are coming up as well! We like being unique, but we like organizations that know how to include children with learning difficulties in their projects even more. That’s why we have started offering professional training to other organizations in Uganda, to ensure a ‘learning difficulties friendly’ approach that reaches as many children as possible.

That’s it for now dear friend! Of course we will update you again soon(er than you think). In the meantime, keep an eye on our social media pages (Facebook: @backupuganda, Instagram: @backupuganda, Twitter: @Backup_Uganda) and website (www.backupuganda.org) for the latest. All our love from Gulu, and remember: every donation you make will through GlobalGiving helps us run our project at more schools in Northern Uganda!

Holiday program with the U4U students!
Holiday program with the U4U students!
Improving your study skills: the creative approach
Improving your study skills: the creative approach
Newest addition to the Backup team: Glades!
Newest addition to the Backup team: Glades!
Nov 27, 2017

We are growing!

Denis, ready for Primary 5!
Denis, ready for Primary 5!

During the GlobalGiving Accelerator in September, we advocated for something we have been working on from day 1: growth! Impacting more learners, teachers and parents, so that children who experience learning difficulties are fully supported during their education. Your first donation has made an incredible difference in that process. Remember we intended to reach at least 30 teachers, 600 students and their parents if we would manage to raise $5,000?

Thanks to your generous contribution, we have been able to continue our project at Gulu Primary School, impacting these very people! For example, we have been able to ensure that a learner like Denis - who used to struggle severely with reading, writing and speaking - will be promoted to the next class after the Christmas holidays. We have had the chance to meet with Gloria's mother, to work on realistic learning goals for her daughter. We have had evaluation meetings with the teachers of Primary 4 and 5, where we shared feedback about the learners' progress and brainstormed about what else we can do for them.

We even managed to organize an extra day of training at a primary school in a neighbouring district! Nearly 30 teachers of Global Leaders Primary School, Namasale Primary School and Namasale Central Primary School learned about identifying children with learning difficulties and about the basics of behavioural challenges. Their request at the end? "Can the next training please be 2 or 3 days, so that we learn more?"

Then, we became a little - who are we kidding, a lot - more ambitious. We decided to rethink our strategies with a main focus on sustainability. Providing direct support to students is wonderful, but isn't it time we find a way to empower teachers to do this independently? After all, our goal is to start a movement that reaches as many schools as possible, so that effective support for students with different learning needs becomes the standard. 

So what's in store for 2018?

  • 4 partner schools, 120 teachers, 2000+ learners & parents

  • a 1-year program of intensive training & mentoring for every school

  • an independent, integrated support system for students with learning difficulties after 1 year

As we are getting closer to the end of the year, you will be receiving messages from us and from GlobalGiving directly about how we can make this a reality together. Remember, Giving Tuesday is coming up this Tuesday, November 28th! GlobalGiving makes sure your donation will have a maximum impact, especially when you decide to become a monthly donor. Keep an eye on our social media pages for the details as well! (Facebook & Instagram: @backupuganda, Twitter: @Backup_Uganda)

This is the beginning of something big. We are determined to make a lasting difference for students in Uganda. Together, we are already making this happen. Together, we can make it bigger.

Practising feedback @ teacher training
Practising feedback @ teacher training
Evaluating with the teachers @ Gulu Primary School
Evaluating with the teachers @ Gulu Primary School
 
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