At Sittankya Primary School in Uganda, Head Teacher Esther K. is always busy. With 450 students in her care, every day is full.
Sittankya sits in a small village outside of Mukono. To reach it, you bump down miles of dirt road, passing grazing goats and motorbikes piled high with bananas and other goods. Everything is coated in dust by the time you reach the school, but the sound of children’s laughter and their bright smiles lifts your spirits immediately.
The school is a series of long skinny buildings laid out in a U shape, with an open courtyard in the middle. Offices, a small library, and classrooms fill these main buildings. Behind the U, there is an outhouse and further back are dorm buildings for the students who are boarders, as well as a kitchen. Off to the side is a big field where students play netball and soccer.
The 450 students who keep Head Teacher Esther so busy are a mix of boarding students and day students.
In Uganda, it is very common for students to board at the school. With no regular school buses, day students can walk two hours or more to reach school every day, so boarding can be much more efficient. Boarding also gives students access to additional learning time with their teachers, and regular meals that can be hard for families to provide at home. If they can afford it, boarding is often seen as the better choice.
The village where Sittankya is located is quite poor. Most families in the area are farmers, subsisting on what can be grown in their gardens. Over 60% of the students in Esther’s care are from farming families. Many of them are being raised by grandparents, after their own parents passed on or could no longer care for them.
In prior years, Esther faced a big dilemma. Her students weren’t coming to school with the necessary learning materials. They had no pencils, no notebooks, and no notebooks. In general, Ugandan students would be sent home in that situation, and instructed not to return unless they had the proper supplies. But Esther knew if she sent her students home, their families wouldn’t send them back. Their subsistence lifestyle barely stretches to cover tuition and can’t afford the needed supply costs. The school couldn’t afford to provide the supplies either, so Esther wound up with students trying to learn to write without paper or pencils at all.
Thankfully, in 2015, Sittankya began a partnership with Sister Schools! Now, Esther can provide students with the necessary supplies right at school! Nobody has to be sent home.
It’s been such a relief to Esther to no longer lose students simply for a lack of supplies. “The pencils [you provide] help my pupils a lot,” she reports. “The crayons... make them love the school. You have indeed lifted our standard with the items you supplied to us.”
She further reports that the books we provide for their library and really helping her students' reading skills grow. “The items received have greatly helped our learners,” she explains. “Reading ability is improved since our library is well-stocked with materials and textbooks, giving pupils a chance to choose what to read. They feel happy; they touch and hold the books by themselves. Our pupils can now read and comprehend!”
It is a joy to partner with schools like Sittankya to help these 450 students pursue their dreams!