A New Primary School for the Katumba Community
If ever a community deserved a new school for their children, it is the parents of Katumba, a small village in the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains, overlooking the troubled Eastern Province of the Congo.
5 years ago, the community was ripped apart when an insurrection, led by a Congolese witchdoctor, resulted in the deaths of 100 of the village men, and left behind destitute wives and children. The mothers, and remaining families, could no longer afford the fees charged by established schools, so they came together in a huge community effort to build their own Katumba Parents’ School. Rejecting the superstitions and witchcraft that had brought the community so many problems, the school runs on Humanist principles, inspired by Juma Siriwayo, a young Parent Director. The classrooms are crude temporary structures, made from wood hewn from the surrounding forests and the small plot of land is subject to flash floods. However, the native-born teachers have shown great commitment and ingenuity.
When we visited the school in 2018 and 2019 we were astonished by the high standard of the children’s spoken English and by the enthusiastic and happy atmosphere in which they were learning. This has contributed to very good results in the Primary Leaving Certificate, enabling a few of the best pupils to attend Isaac Newton High School, where they are proving to be star students.
Following our enthusiastic report about the school, two long-standing supporters of Uganda Humanist Schools Trust have pledged £80,000 to the construction of a new school on a more suitable site. The land was donated by Teopista Nanganda, a Director of the school, who is also grandmother to a number of the pupils. After a number of iterations, we have agreed with the parents a plan for the new school (below) and a programme to complete the building work in 4 phases over 3 to 4 years. The proposals have brought hope to everyone involved with the school and, indeed, to the whole community. The school’s construction, which will start immediately, will create employment and put much-needed income into a community which deserves a better future.