Uganda Humanist Schools Trust: Charity No 1128762

Mustard Seed Schools in good heart

The Mustard Seed Humanist Schools are emerging from the challenges posed by Covid, Ebola and Russia’s war on Ukraine. Here is an end-of-year message from Moses Kamya, the Schools’ Director.

“We offer a big thank you to all UHST supporters. You have enabled us to navigate through Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine. As a result of your generous response to the UHST appeal, Mustard Seed Humanist Primary School was born in 2022. Our staff, children and the entire community are very appreciative! Many new families from the wider Busota community are ready to enrol their children into the primary section of Mustard Seed at the start of the 2023 school year in February. 

The community is coming to understand that a Humanist school is inclusive and welcomes children, irrespective of their family’s beliefs or background. They appreciate that Mustard Seed is a happy school, with high standards of welfare and education and where staff aim to get the best from each child. By continuing to provide scholarships for bright children from poorer backgrounds, UHST supporters give hope and put a smile on the faces of our children. Thank you indeed!

We are coming close to the end of the school year. Our teachers are happy because the money we receive from UHST each month will enable us to pay staff up to the end of December.

Mustard Seed secondary teaching staff

Our refurbished computer lab, library and science laboratory are now in full use and are enhancing learning environment for our young people. 

Right now, 144 children from our top classes are taking national examinations and we are hoping for good news when the results are published in January. Numbers entering for exams at each level are:

Primary Leaving Examination 15
Uganda Certificate in Education (O-level) 104 
Uganda Advanced Certificate in Education (A-level) 25. 

Taking UCE O-level examinations in the Mustard Seed School Hall

Each year, more former Mustard Seed students graduate from Higher Education institutions in a variety of subjects such as Law, Accounting, Agriculture. Many students take undergraduate courses in teaching and nursing, both of which are becoming graduate professions. 

Mustard Seed School sports teams are doing well in inter-school competitions. Both our girls’ and boys’ football teams reached the semi-finals of the regional tournament this year.

Mustard Seed Girl footballers in Semi Final of the Regional cup

Our Aids Club at secondary school continues to gain publicity in the media because of its leading role in sensitising teenagers to the ongoing challenge that HIV still poses in Uganda.

Article about Mustard Seed’s Aids Club in the national Newspaper “New Vision”

The Uganda Government has ordered the closure of all schools by 25th November, two weeks earlier than usual, due to an Ebola outbreak which has infected 141 people, leading to 55 deaths across the country, including school children.

Minister of Education, Mrs Museveni, ordering the closure of schools as an Ebola protection measure

Despite the continued challenges, with help from UHST supporters, we expect to be opening Mustard Seed Humanist Schools in the first week of February, with more students and a determination to transform the life chances of a new generation of young people.”

Moses Kamya, Director, Mustard Seed Humanist School, November, 2022.

Katumba Parents Humanist School steps up a gear

Written by Juma Irumba Siriwayo, School Director

The children, teachers, parents and the entire community of Katumba are very excited and proud of our new school. As the first brick-built school and first significant investment in the area it lifts the spirits of everyone here.

We wish to thank UHST Supporters for making this happen.

Despite the problems of Covid, landslides, floods and high prices we have achieved a lot during the year.

  • The new school library is nearing completion. Once all the furniture has been installed, we will have a safe storage place for books and will transfer books from off-site storage, so that children can more easily access them.
  • The computer room has windows, doors, electrical cabling and has been plastered. It is now being painted before being fitted with furniture and a first computer linked to a data projector.
  • Lightning arrestors have been installed to prevent the school from lightning destruction. As the school is in a mountainous area, lightning is a serious threat during the long-rainy season.
  • Our first cooking stoves were badly built and broke apart of first firing. Fortunately, UHST supporters have paid for some decent new efficient cooking stoves with chimneys. This has greatly reduced our firewood consumption and costs.

We are now embarking on large scale tree planting on the extra land paid for by UHST. This should provide a sustainable source of future firewood. Our aim is to make Katumba School environmentally sustainable.

We are delighted that a former student has returned to us as school nurse, since completing her training. She loves working in the school and is very grateful for the mentoring support she has received from staff.

Immediate priorities for our school are:

  • to build a girls’ washroom and staff toilets;
  • to improve conditions for P6 and P7 children sleeping in the school, by providing decent metal framed beds, mosquito nets and eventually building proper sleeping; quarters so the classrooms can be released for teaching and learning
  • we need a solar electricity system to provide reliable lighting in the dormitories, since there is a continual problem of mains power cuts
  • and, of course, we need many more books and learning resources if our children are to become independent learners.

    Nursery children lining up for breakfast…
Nursery children line up for breakfast

Positive stories from Kanungu Humanist Primary School

Covid and the Russian attacks on Ukraine have brought a good deal of misery to Uganda and these have provided a huge adverse negative shock to the finances of the Humanist and all other schools. However, there is light in the midst of the darkness. Here are some positive stories from Robert Magara, the Director of Kanungu Humanist Primary School. They give an insight into the way that a Humanist School can reach out to work closely with its community.

During the Covid lockdown, our school developed a small out-reach program to ensure our most vulnerable families received basic food supplies to help them through. This included delivering much needed mattresses to a vulnerable, elderly people. 

A few weeks ago, heavy rains and storms caused massive flooding in our community, which is surrounded by high hills and deep valleys. This causes dangerous mud-slides and rivers to burst their banks, which leads to families being cut off for many weeks. One afternoon heavy flooding caused our little community bridge over the river to be washed away!

Our school was able to provide materials to rebuild the bridge and asked people from the local communities to come together and help. They agreed!  Massive timbers were bought down from the forest and the bridge has been repaired. Because of this work, the Member of Parliament for our district has taken an interest in what we are doing and we are talking to him regarding building a permanent bridge here for the community and perhaps a proper road.

A little girl named Ritah was born with only one arm. Because of this, her mother abandoned her and she was raised by her grandmother. She was bought to our school nursery at age 3 years but the grandmother was unable to afford the school fees so we found a Sponsor in the UK who now, not only provides school fees for Ritah but also school uniform, shoes and other basic necessities.

We have also now been in contact with a charity in Canada who have agreed to help Ritah with a prosthetic arm. They have a team in a hospital in Uganda and we are in discussion with them to arrange transporting Ritah and her Grandmother there for discussion and measurements.

We have just employed a school secretary named Kate. She is a real asset for the school. Qualified in administration, Kate is responsible for school admin and over-seeing staff. The most important part of Kate’s skill-set is that she is local to the school and knows most of the parents in the community. She not only acts as a liaison between the school and parents but is a wonderful advocate for the children.

She is also involved with starting the Women’s Initiative and promoting the women’s health agenda in the community. This will also cover women’s rights, domestic abuse, contraception and pre/post-natal care. She has already had meetings with local women to discuss their shared problems and to discuss ways forward for everyone to work together in the principles of Humanism, which is to help each other, not just ourselves.  Kate also travels extensively to visit the homes of our children to assess their situation outside of school and see what can be done to help. Kate is enthusiastic, full of good ideas and is always smiling!

We are very grateful to everyone helping our school community to develop.

Robert Magara, Director, Kanungu Humanist Primary School – Uganda