Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH

by Arlington Academy of Hope, Inc.
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
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

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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
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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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Our project operates in rural eastern Uganda, one of the poorest countries in the world, in a region where less than 14% of children complete primary school. We have a near 100% success rate in completing primary school and enrolling in secondary school (similiar to high school and junior college in the US).

Internships/Apprenticeships for Secondary students.  The students are back at school as of September 2013, in the third and final term of the school year.  While on break, we emphasized opportunities to gain job skills that will help the students later in life.  Students completed volunteer service at the school, at our clinic, and in the community.  Some students were able to work in companies over the break -- equivalent to an internship.  This is a program we want to expand in order to give students some professional work to help build their resumes and gain valuable experience.  Unemployment and underemployment is a big issue in Uganda, so anything we can do to give the students valuable job skills and experience is a good thing.

STEM teaching and learning.  Our Uganda staff is identifying individuals with STEM expertise (science, technology, engineering, and math) to assist during the student breaks. This is challenging due to our remote location.  We are also looking into online modules that could help, if feasible with our very, very limited internet and electricity.

We are doing an inventory books and materials and teacher skills we already have in Uganda, to strengthen STEM education. The Ugandan government is updating some textbooks so we need to ensure we have appropriate teaching and learning materials so students in primary school are learning what is needed for national exams and to prepare students for secondary school.

Girl Mentoring.  A group of faculty and students from Lasell College provided mentoring for girls.

Technology Challenges.  We also exploring if anything can be done to improve the poor internet and unreliable electricity in rural eastern Uganda which limits our ability to do online learning so far. This is an ongoing issue and we are doing our best at workarounds, such as using smart phones which have much better internet.

University students.  We have several students in university studying STEM topics.  One student named Timothy even scored a perfect score on the pre-college exam -- equivalent to getting a 1600 on U.S. college boards!  Timothy received a full government scholarship to study engineering. Almost all of the first class to graduate secondary school last year did well on college entrance exams and are now in college.  Most were admitted to the best colleges in the country.  No one anticipated so many of our secondary students would be accepted in college.  We are exploring the viability of a student loan program so that those students who do not have sponsors can attend college.

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Organization Information

Arlington Academy of Hope, Inc.

Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AAHUganda
Project Leader:
Arlington Academy of Hope
Executive Director
Arlington, VA Uganda
$454,662 raised of $521,526 goal
 
1,470 donations
$66,864 to go
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