The URDTGS started in 2000 to address a need of orphaned and other vulnerable girls for transformational education in Kibaale District. Although the Government provides universal primary and secondary education, their schools lack the capacity and vision of preparing students and their families for a good and happy life in a rural setting and become responsible citizens. The URDTGS demonstrates that its 2-generation approach leads to more prosperity, health and peace in the homes of the students.
MISSION OF THE URDTGS
The URDTGS' mission is to provide disadvantaged and talented girls and their homes with transformational and value based education that shapes character and personality, and creates excellence, prosperity, health, peace, freedom and happiness".
The school is a not for profit institution that offers education to girls and their families that are unable to provide most of the basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, clean safe water and education. The girl's potential talents are assessed through specially designed interviews and home visits.
URDTGS' 2-GENERATION APPROACH TO EDUCATION
The URDTGS uniquely links education to home and community development. By actively involving the parents through functional adult literacy training, it reduces the knowledge gap between the 2 generations. The 2-generation approach improves family cooperation and enhances a shared vison and desire to collectively work towards self reliance, food security, sustainable income, tolerance, gender equity and happines in the homes of the students
a) STUDENT LEVEL
The school enhances the students' academic success through formal education (Uganda's National Education Board curriculum) as well as informal training through its co-curricular activities that enhance their skills in leadership,commercial farming, enterpreneurship, preventive health care, creating peace, environmental management and gender consciousness.
b) HOME LEVEL
By actively involving the parents through back home projects, parents workshops and functional adult literacy training, the school encourages family cooperation and collective action towards gender equality, health, prosperity, peace, freedom and happiness in the students' homes and communities.
The institutional linkages with URDT's community radio, Institute for Vocational Studies and Appropriate Technologies, the Human Rights and Peace centre and African Rural University provides a rich human resource base.
c) COMMUNITY LEVEL
Through participation in public debates and plays, the students improve their leadership and communications skills and learn to live together with different types of people. Our focus is on conscious raising on human rights and obligations, with emphasis on women and children rights, health, peace and good governance. We participate in local and national advocacy campaigns and also organise popular theatre in the communities in collaboration with URDT's human right desk. We promote cooperation as opposed to domestic and ethnic violence and the importance of girls education and peace as key in sustainable development.
On annual basis we have reported about our achievements, at student, home, community and management levels.See the document files.
Below a brief summary.
The URDTGS started in 2000 with only 60 girls, because of limited resources. The current infrastructure allows us to 270 students in respectively the classes: upper primary: P5, P6, P7 and secondary: O level (S1-S4) and A-level (S5 and S6). In 2017 we expect to educate over 240 students.
Since we started, the school has been able to implement the National Curriculum and participate in national exams. The girls' academic results are good, especially when taken into account their disadvantaged backgrounds. So far, all students passed the exams and especially the primary students did very well, 55- 60% received first grades, the rest got second grades.
The school has developed a rural development oriented co-curricular programme that supports the girls to become transformational leaders, act as transformation/change agents in their own families and communities. The learners also gained skills in agro business management, sustainable natural resource management, vocational subjectis, preventive health care and other life skills.
Our annual research showed that the co-curricula activities have a positive impact on at least 75% of the homes. These have a vision and family members are working towards long-term prosperity and happiness. We noted improved farm management, health, nutrition, financial management and family cooperation. Since its inception, the school's co-curricular activities reached over 1200 home members, 6000 community members and students and 2 million listeners.
URDTGS ensures that professional and appropriate accountability systems and procedures are in place. The school strives to be cost conscious and promotes wisely use of its limited resources amongst staff and students. Currently the organisation depend mainly on external funding, given the economic situation in the homes of the students. With the kind support of Triodos Fund, the Netherlands, we have set up a provision for an endowment fund that on the long run it is expected to cater for the running costs of the school. We also expect that the ex-students of the school will take part in a sponsorship programme to finance the school.
The URDTGS has won national prizes from Ashoka Change maker school (2015), Teacha a Man to Fish (2014), European Commission-U (2006), FAWE-U (2002) and the National Book Trust (2003, 2005 and 2007) and various district sport competitions (2004-20017). The District Inspector of School declared URDTGS model school of Kibaale district due to its holistic and 2-generation approach to education.
The school will continue to learn and adjust its strategies for effective ways of excelling home developments and creating peace, health and prosperity at all levels.
WHAT IS THE 2- GENERATION APPROACH TO EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT ?
The school's 2-generation approach enhances i) academic success through formal education as well as ii) personal, home and community development through workshops and functional adult literacy training. The students transfer their newly gained skills through workshops, back-home projects; popular theatre and radio programmes to their homes and communities.
The operations of the school are grounded in the belief that:
- like all people in the world people, students and their home members are key to their own development
2. people have innate power and wisdom which they can tap to transform the quality of their life and that of their communities
3. the transformational /visionary leadership style is an effective approach to home transformation
4. people with a common vision can transcend traditional barriers and prejudice caused by tribal, religious, political and gender differences and work together to achieve that which is truly important to them all.
5. Lasting change comes only as people shift from reacting or adapting to circumstances to being the creators of their desired future.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THE SCHOOL'S CURRICULUM?
The URDTGS has designed a co-curriculum programme that enhances the students' transformational leadership skills, life skills, technical skills and entrepreneurial skills. The students engage in agricultural practices, preventive health care, debates, essay writing, sports, clubs, music, dance & drama, science exhibitions, arts& crafts, feature days, amongst others.
Every term an inquiry based learning project is carried out with the aim of helping the learners to think beyond specific topics (as is so common in rural schools) by relating what they have learned to their own world. Hence become better life managers and systems thinkers. Therefore, the teaching is done around a relevant and inspiring central question, which is broken down in supporting questions and topics to ease the analysis and search for answers to the central question. We use group work, attractive reference materials and audiovisual materials to enhance the learning process.
Students get training in entrepreneurship and artisanship. They learn to make furniture from rattan cane, house hold items from local materials and decorations for use at home and for sales. We also educate them on processing agricultural products and cash crop growing and as such link their learning and skills to the world of work and ways to earn an income. However, we promote practical learning for development as opposed to child labour.
Through the URDT Institute we also provide for vocational training to disadvantaged youth who drop out at S4 level. They learn entrepreneurial and vocational subjects like carpentry, tailoring, building and construction, handicrafts, metal work and mechanics. The students also get their share in business management, accounting, artisanship training and appropriate technologies.
GENDER, TECHNOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT
Related to the income generating activities and the vocational training, are our activities to demystify technology, as traditionally it is a domain for men. Our experience is that women are the biggest source of labour in the rural areas, however often they are excluded in equipping them in skills for design and use of technologies. The backbreaking practices based on human muscles have continued, hence low productivity and poor health at house hold level.
Already the learners in the URDT Girls' School have been introduced to new technologies, especially in energy saving, food processing and health. They have learned about construction of, latrines, bath rooms and drying racks; solar electricity, solar drying, mechanised tea growing and food processing. The training will continue with inclusion of use of animal traction and transport, improved stoves, paper making and other technologies.
The school considers the girls as change agents and transformational leaders in their respective homes and communities. The school supports the girls and their home members to reflect on their life purpose and enhances their understanding on how one can make a difference in their homes and communities. Backhome projects address in an integrated manner issues of :
1) Food security and preventive health care
2) Sustainable income through sustainable agricultural practices, production of traditional and non- traditional and cottage industries: like honey production, poultry keeping, solar dried produce and local crafts
3) Energy security: ensure enough fuel wood, use of fuel saving stoves; agro forestry practices and electricity from solar panels
4) Values and beliefs that underpin behaviour and promote family cooperation, selflessness and care for others and the eco-system.
THE PARENTS' WORKSHOPS
The school organises two types of training workshops. One type is to educate the parents on what the students have learned during the term and can be applied in their home situation. These workshops are held at the end of each school term and are facilitated by the students while the parents take the role of the students. The workshops provide enlightenment on home and community development related issue which emerge from what students have learned during the preceding term. The students offer parents a divers one-day programme of poems, lectures, demonstrations and songs in order to pass on their learning. They have proven to provide a good platform for understanding relevant strategies for home development. We also organise workshops meant to address specific training needs expressed by parents and guardians. Outside resource persons, often staff of the URDT, facilitate these workshops. The facilitators work in close collaborated with the relevant students and the teachers. The workshops are both residential at the URDT campus or organised near the homes at sub-county level.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
Through participation in public debates and plays designed by the school, the students improve their leadership and communications skills and learn to live together with different types of people. Our focus is on conscious raising on human rights issues, with emphasis on women and children rights, health and good governance. We participate in local and national advocacy campaigns and also organise popular theatre in the communities in collaboration with URDT's human right desk. We promote cooperation as opposed to domestic and ethnic violence and the importance of girls education.
URDT has established a human rights component that educates the students on the relationship between true development and human rights. It also provides counselling services on human rights abuses and seeks redress through the established channels for people from the community.
We as well develop consciousness on the shift in thinking that what we traditionally referred to as human needs, are now human rights issues. Food, shelter, health, clean environment, security and freedom are rights for everyone, especially the children who cannot take care of themselves yet. We educate students and the community on the importance of cooperation and respect for human rights but also the related obligations in their homes and communities.
We also encourage students and their home members who live in the same sub-county to form self-help groups, work together and learn from each other's experiences.
TEACHER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
The school has a teachers' self development programme that aims to ensure that teachers are conversant with the principles of transformation and transpersonal education. On regular basis workshops are organised that deal with issues of handling students from different backgrounds, age and gender, learning projects and rural development.
MANAGEMENT OF THE SCHOOL
URDT's over 20 years experience in training and human development provides a solid basis for managing the school and developing an educational programme in line with the school's vision and mission. URDT acts as the Board of Trustees of the Girls' school and its Board is the overall policy making body. The Executive Committee plays an important role in setting up value based management systems and the establishment of the school's co-curriculum programme that enhances development at home and community level. The Head teachers are responsible for the effective day to day running of the school and encourage teamwork and team-learning amongst the teaching and non-teaching staff. A Matron heads the boarding section. She is assisted by other staff who prepare meals, ensure a hygienic and homely and caring environment.
The development of the school is considered as an evolving process that requires courage, innovativeness, a learning attitude and creative thinking at all levels in the organisation. Therefore, considerable time is made available for experimenting, reflection, analysing and adjusting. The school's mission and vision, the students' needs and strive for excellence and happiness guides the decision making process.