Phoenix arises from the ashes

Work on creating new Humanist primary schools from the ashes of bankrupt religious schools, is proceeding well.

Peter Kisirinya has been leading the refurbishment a former Evangelical school. Dirt floors have been concreted, doors and windows installed, walls plastered and painted; Blair toilets, a cookhouse and a kindergarten for pre-school children constructed. Other improvements include 4 x 10,000 litre tanks to capture rainwater from the roofs, electricity for power and lighting, and a surrounding wall to keep children safe. Over the last 6 months, Peter and his team of local builders have worked hard on the project. As we can see from the pictures, the primary school has been transformed.

Isaac Newton Humanist Primary School

Work on a new kindergarten will soon be finished and local parents are looking forward to having the first pre-school education in the area. We know from international research that pre-schooling makes a significant difference to how far children progress with their education and the level of their final outcomes.

Constructing furniture

The local community lobbied Peter to take over the failed primary school and to operate it as he does the Isaac Newton Humanist High School, which has gained great respect as the first Humanist School in the world. Peter says “local people are tired of organisations that run schools to indoctrinate children with one narrow-minded view of the world”. They like the Humanist philosophy which does not discriminate between children based on parental beliefs. They see that every child matters in Humanist schools and they foster open and enquiring minds with strong feelings of personal and community responsibility. Peter is delighted to see that parents who had taken their children away from the previous school, due to indoctrination and low educational standards, are now seeking admission to the Humanist school. In both the primary school and kindergarten there are more children wanting to join than places available. When the school reopens, children of Kateera will be able to benefit from an inclusive Humanist education based on reason, compassion and tolerance from the age of 3 to 19.

Peter aims to have Isaac Newton Humanist Primary School ready to take children as soon as the Uganda government considers it safe to do so. Schools were due to reopen two weeks ago but a new Covid surge led to the closure being extended. This has been a huge disappointment to staff, children and the whole community of Kateera. Peter reports, “They were all expecting the terribly challenging situation to come to an end soon but now feel devastated. Teachers had been working hard to prepare lessons for a restart in September. However, they are now turning their efforts to preparing scholastic materials to enable our children to learn from home. As children live within an easy walking distance of the school, teachers will deliver the materials directly to children’s homes. Home schooling will ensure some continuity of education between now and school reopening in January.”

Progress on the new Mustard Seed Humanist Primary School is also progressing. The owner of the former Muslim school only vacated the site in August, but early work on the school can be seen on Moses Kamya’s Facebook page: