stevehurd@uhst.org Uganda Humanist Schools Trust: Charity No 1128762

Young and educated promise a bright future for Katumba

A new upbeat report from Irumba Juma Siriwayo.

Katumba Parents Humanist Primary School plays a critical role in meeting the unique needs of the remote Bukonzo community. Our people live in scattered homes in the foothills of the 15,000 ft Ruwenzori Mountains. The nearest town, just 7km away, takes up to 30 minutes by car as the road is broken and tortuous. 

Our school is the only centre of learning in the area. It first opened in temporary buildings in 2015 and we moved to a new purpose-built school, funded by UHST, in January 2021. Our school has become the heart of our community:

  1. It educates 750 primary age children in the national curriculum.
  2. Our teachers and children keep alive the music, dance and drama traditions of the area.
  3. We nurture a sense of belonging and community.
  4. Through the employment it provides and the goods and services it buys from the local community our school is accelerating economic development in an area that was stagnant economically.
Local supplier of school food
Former students teaching at the school

Former students, from the early days of our school, are starting to make their mark in the community. Many moved on to secondary school in Bundibugyo or further away as boarders. Some of those have also completed college courses. Eight of our early students have now returned to teach in our new primary school. Two others are teaching in secondary schools elsewhere. One former student works as a nurse in the local health centre. Another student has become a local Agricultural Extension Services Officer.

Parents have been so happy with the Humanist Ethos of our school that they have chosen to send their children to Humanist Secondary Schools in other parts of the country. They have been assisted with scholarships provided by UHST supporters and by members of the Ethical Society of St Louis. When the new school year starts in February 2024 we will have students in the following Senior classes at Humanist High Schools:

Katumba students in:Isaac NewtonMustard Seed
Senior 1Seeking sponsorsSeeking sponsors
Senior 255
Senior 36
Senior 43

In 2023 four students completed their Uganda Certificate in Education (Ordinary level) at Isaac Newton Humanist High School and are awaiting their results.

Katumba School provides direct employment to 16 teachers, and 6 ancillary staff including a bursar, cook and caretaker. A local lady runs a school tuck shop which sells small items to staff, children and local people. Another local lady earns a living by cutting firewood and selling it to the school for cooking school lunches. During the building phase of the school many local people were employed in various building trades and in supplying building materials. Now the school is up and running it buys food from local farmers and local people bring fruit and other small items into school to sell. UHST has provided funds to the local council to improve road access to the school, to lay on piped water and to extend mains electricity. These all bring significant benefits to the local community. 

School building materials supplier
School firewood supplier

Mustard Seed high achievers

Hellen Kisaakye (left)
graduating as a qualified nurse
Rogers Muwanguzi went on to found
Eagle’s View Humanist Primary School

Moses Kamya has written this reflection on Mustard Seed Humanist School alumni as it moves towards the end of its second decade. When children leave, it is often difficult to keep track of them. Moses, the school’s Headteacher Director has much anecdotal evidence of how the school has changed the lifepaths of many former students.

“Since our school opened, over 200 former students have joined higher institutions of learning to study for degree and diploma courses. Some dropped out due to financial reasons, but many have graduated and found good jobs. Our young people feel strong ties with home. Many return and find jobs locally, others work in towns but visit home regularly and provide financial support to younger siblings and older parents. 

Martin Ahimbisibwe, who gained a BSc in Engineering from Kampala University four years ago, has a good job working as an engineer with a private construction firm in Kampala. Many of our former students gained government scholarships to train as teachers and health workers. 

After completing his teacher training and gaining a few years’ experience, Rogers Muwanguzi founded his own school, Eagle’s View Humanist Primary School, in Kaiira, Buwenge District of Jinja. Inspired by the Humanist values he learned during his time at Mustard Seed School, Rogers had no hesitation in founding his own school based upon those same principles.

Hellen Kisaakye, like many other former girls and boys, went away to train as a nurse. She now has a fulfilling job in a government health centre in Buyikwe district, a short distance from home across the River Nile bridge. 

15 of our current teachers are former Mustard Seed students. The latest to join our staff are: Hellen Namaganda, teaching Agriculture after gaining a BSc in Agriculture, Mukasa Saidat, teaching Economics with a BA in Business Education, Andrew Nyago, teaching Mathematics and Physics and Ochan Mathias, teaching  Biology and Chemistry.

We also have former students who study part time to gain their qualifications while earning money from teaching with us. Matege Conelius is pursuing a BA in English Language Studies at Busitema University and Owen Kafambe is taking a BSc in Education with Biology anď Chemistry at Kampala University. They are keen to pass on their joy of learning and to give something back to the school having been assisted by scholarships from UHST supporters to go through school. 

Other former students who have recently done well at university include: Joan Mukisa, our former Head Girl, who has gained a BA LLB in Law from the top Law School in the country at Makerere University. Joan is now extending her studies into the specialist field of Forensic Digital Law. Mutiibwa Isaac is close to completing a Batchelor in Commerce BCOM at Nkumba University.

It is heartwarming to see how the school has transformed so many young lives.
We are grateful to the many UHST Supporters who have made this possible.”

2023 has been a good year

2023 has been a good year for UHST and for the Humanist Schools in Uganda. Teachers and children have enjoyed being back at school and there are high expectations of good examination results in January.

It was an important year for the wider Humanist Schools Movement in Uganda. Bringing the schools together for the 3rd Humanist Schools Conference was a truly uplifting event for everyone. The creation of the Organisation of Humanist Schools of Uganda and getting it officially recognised under Uganda law also marks a huge step forward.

As a charity we are pleased to be able to bring the Kasese Humanist Schools into our support network alongside Isaac Newton, Mustard Seed, Katumba and Kanungu schools.

Our 2023 UHST Annual Progress Report gives a full account where we stand as a charity at the end of 2023. 

We should like to thank our loyal supporters for the long-term commitment they have shown to the pioneering work of the Humanist Schools in Uganda, in the face of considerable challenges. Without your ongoing support the remarkable developments outlined in the 2023 Report would have been almost impossible. 

The schools’ two greatest challenges are to ensure that their teachers are paid regularly and to be able to keep in school those bright, needy children who struggle to pay fees. We could make life easier for the schools if we could attract more regular monthly donations. Links to make credit card donations through PayPal and to UK bank standing order forms can be found on our donation page.