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.