The new term starts on Monday for our 36 sponsored kids! Unlike most kids in the US, kids in Uganda are excited if they get to go to school. I say "if" because, although schools are technically free, they aren't, and the fees are out of reach for more than half the children there.
Why are free schools not free, you ask? Because of the "fees"... The fees aren't technically for tuition, they are for books, supplies (including toilet paper), and uniforms. This last is, to me, especially frustrating, because even if a child can meet the rest of the fees, without the uniform they can't attend. And while the uniform portion is only once in a year, it can double the amount due for that term. Since school fees can be more than twice (even four times, for the higher grades of S1-S4) what a month's rent is for the families in the slums, this puts school out of reach without sponsors.
As I've posted before, we picked up 15 new children to sponsor during the trip last month. All of these kids attended our basketball camp, and all are smart, enthusiastic kids with dreams of their own. All of them are behind in school - a 15 year old in Primary 4, for instance - but all of them just long for the chance to prove themselves and get out of the slums.
The Ugandan system is much like the British system, and not everyone is even allowed to go past P7. There are exams which allow you to proceed, and the A levels and O levels in secondary school which basically determine your future. You can't go to University, or even to some vocational schools, without good marks on these exams.
Won't you help us provide these kids with the best opportunity to improve the lot of their family tree? With your help they can get a vocation or even a degree. They can become the teachers and doctors and lawyers they dream of being...
As always, thanks for your thoughts and prayers!