Back to school in Uganda: excitement and enthusiasm at start of new school year

On Monday, February 6th 2023, hundreds of students walked through the doors of FCA schools in Uganda’s refugee settlements as the first day of classes began for schools across the country. Even more are expected to report to class in the next two weeks.

OUR STUDENTS are from diverse backgrounds and FCA runs several programmes for them to make sure that every child can blossom in an environment catered for their needs.

I am excited to be back to school to play with my friends, start learning and have fun while I am learning,” says Poni Alice, a schoolchild who is flourishing under the Play to Learn programme. FCA runs the LEGO foundation-funded programme in Bidibidi refugee settlement. It provides quality teaching and learning through functional and play-based pedagogy in child-friendly environments.

David missed many years of school. Now, he’s catching up with our Accelerated Education Programme.

Meanwhile, David Mugasa, 17, a level three learner at Nteziryayo Primary School in Rwamwanja refugee settlement is excited about the year’s possibilities.
“I’m so ready to attend classes,” he enthuses. “This school term, I will study very hard and be the brightest student in my class. I am looking forward to learning and to receiving scholastic materials from FCA and UNHCR.”

David enrolled on our Accelerated Education Programme (AEP) supported by European Union Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). He had dropped out of school before he joined the program in 2022, but with the help of our condensed curriculum, he has caught up with several grades of study in only one year.

Secondary education isn’t neglected

We are one of the few development organisations to offer secondary education as well. While many NGOs focus on early years, we believe access to quality education should extend from pre-school all the way through to youth and young adult.

Standing in the school compound, Bernette Niwagaba, the headteacher at Ntenungi Secondary School is excited to start a new school term and has enjoyed watching his students arrive with excitement.

Bernette Niwagaba is the headteacher at Ntenugi Secondary School

“I just have this feeling that it’s going to be such a great term. There have been so many positive changes and the students just seem so enthusiastic and ready to learn,” he says.

Ntenungi Secondary School was constructed with funding from the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Quality education is inclusive and accessible

Alex Dusabe, a special needs learner at Sweswe Primary School is ready to excel this year. “I’m so happy to see my friends and enjoy staying at the school. I am going to work hard this term and perform well in class and I also want to take part in improving the school sanitation,” he says.

Alex attends school as a boarder, as his disability prevents him from walking long distances.

Alex, who is physically impaired, is glad that he doesn’t have to walk a long distance to school. “I had thought about leaving school because I couldn’t manage walking to and from school daily. I am so happy that I can stay at the school’s boarding section and do not need to travel the long distance.”

In 2021, FCA, with funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland, constructed a special needs education unit for learners at Sweswe Primary School in Kyaka II refugee settlement. The unit provides a safe and protected environment for students and has a boarding section where they can live, not only from Kyaka II but also from Rwamwanja refugee settlement, 70 kilometres away.

Sweswe primary school was constructed with a special needs unit, thanks to funding from Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

FCA works with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Ministry of Education and Sports to promote access to quality education right from early childhood education, primary and secondary education.

Text: Linda Kabuzire
Images: FCA