Open for biz!

29 06 2018

The construction work at Bugembe is finished: walls are up, verandah on, floors are poured and the temporary roof is on.

Why the temporary roof? Because we wanted to use the classrooms before the second story is put on the classroom block. The school is growing so fast!

The slab roof needed for the second floor will not happen anytime soon and we decided when we began this project to use the lessons we learned on building Nanso, our first school and build it room by room. So while the current temporary roof looks very patchwork, it was very cost effective and does the job. (Plus it’s using recycled materials!) This class is a huge upgrade in space for the grade 1s who are currently packed into one wooden makeshift room and really need two, not to mention it is a safe and weather-proof structure to learn in… The teachers and students are very eager to move in and will do so this week as soon as the chalk boards dry!

They grade 1s will be next door to the classroom we built last year which is currently occupied by 84 grade 2 students (and one teacher!). Good thing we made this room a double classroom anticipating a real need for space! Eventually there will be two rooms for each grade, but in the meantime this is how it is. Teachers are used to these class sizes and somehow have excellent classroom management despite the challenges of these numbers. Still, it’s not an ideal learn environment and it was addressed in the school design. Change is coming!

The next class to be built will be on the opposite side of the grade 2 class, which will be the corner room on the classroom block. So this school is designed to be shaped like an “L” on this side much like Nanso.

We spent some time discussing the plans with the future makerspace & computer lab that are part of the plan for this school. The rooms for these purposes are built now and located on the second floor of of the office block. This was selected during the planning as the most secure location. We were mostly concerned with looking at layout and where the electrical conduit will run before they plaster and seal the inside of the walls in these rooms. It’s really exciting to be building this school to include modern learning spaces and this will be our third of such facilities. However, let’s not rush, we are still at least a year away from this being ready!

Our belief in equity and not limiting opportunity for students in Uganda due to lack of access to facilities and equipment is a big part of this school project. Equipping students with relevant modern skills is vital to progress everywhere, and Africa is no exception. Combined access to education and technology empowers youth to solve problems.

Working on reducing class size is also a significant part of the development plan in place for Our Dad Elementary and one that we are working closely with director Michael to make happen sooner than later.

We are also looking ahead to developing the technology spaces of the school facility to offer access to the community in computer & tech skills training. This was the other reason for choosing to locate this part of the school away from the regular classrooms. We anticipate this after school hours/weekend programming will be aimed at older and out-of-school youth in the community in Bugembe much like the Jinja space.

Quality education opportunity and improvement is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (#4) for 2030, which we are proud to say aligns with JCEO’s vision and goals as well. Good things are happening – and it’s thanks to the generosity of donors, volunteers and organizations that believe in our work & support us. Thank you. On this same note, we also really need to thank our families and friends for being such long term (endless) support to us and the work we do with Just Cause. Without a great team on board none of what we do is possible. Thank you to all who have been involved – together what we’ve made happen is pretty amazing & we can’t wait to see what we can do next!

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