Stand Tall Education Covid Update
STAND TALL EDUCATION has taken care of their staff and students throughout a difficult year. All schools in Uganda have been closed since March resulting in a country-wide surge of teenage pregnancies, domestic abuse and an ever-increasing number of students leaving their educational institutions completely.
Stand Tall School opened its doors to its grade 7 class in October after having retrofitted the school with foot pedal washing stations, masks, shields and temperature guns.
We feel that it is a testament to the excellence of our school that all our grade 7 students have returned, and are showing an encouraging eagerness to learn and catch up on what they missed. We still have no official word as to when the grade 7 class will be taking their primary leaving exams but we believe it will be in February or March of 2021.
When schools closed in March, we made the decision to continue paying our staff their full salaries. Other private schools in Uganda who were unable to do this lost many of their teachers and some have closed their doors permanently and sold off their land. Our rationale for maintaining salaries was to ensure that when things returned to normal, we would have a full well-trained staff back at work.
During this period, we required our teachers to attend workshops twice per week both as presenters and participants. We used this time to do professional development in such areas as literacy, visual learning, and digital learning.
The aim was to use our time wisely and to make the most of a difficult situation. To that end, we succeeded and have managed to retain our staff and provide training at the same time.
Food Distribution & Loans
The closure of shops and businesses during the last few months negatively impacted some of our most vulnerable families. The Principal and Head Teacher managed to check on all of our families and identify those that were most in need of food supplies and basic essentials.
They prepared 25 kg bags of maize, rice and beans and distributed them as needed. In total 15-20 families received supplies and this program remains ongoing.
In addition to food distribution, we provided interest free loans to two of our vocational graduates, one was used to start a small welding business and the other was for the purchase of tools for a carpentry shop. We continue to offer interest free loans to our graduates who are required to present us with a budget, sign a contract and work out a payment schedule. This not only helps them financially but also provides them with the practical experience of presenting a business proposal and following through with it.
Building a Bakery
One of our biggest accomplishments this period has been to realize the long-awaited dream of building a fully equipped bakery building on our land behind the school. The seed money for this building came from a legacy donation in memory of a mother with deep emotional ties to Uganda. We honour her memory through this addition to the school.
The bakery will provide vocational and skills training to all our students. Whether elementary school is the final stop for some or others who will go onto higher education, employable skills are perhaps one of the most important gifts we can offer. The ability to earn a living is an essential resource to help break the cycle of poverty.
Looking Ahead to 2021
We are very hopeful that all classes will resume in early 2021. In addition to academics, we look forward to offering our art and music programs and expanding bakery training to all classes. Unfortunately we were not able to host any volunteers this year but with vaccines on their way, we expect our volunteer program to start up again sometime in the new year. We’re hoping to see all of our post-elementary students back in their respective programs in 2021 including the two in university. We have plans to buy more digital tablets which at present contain the Science and Math curriculum. Our objective is to add the remaining subjects of English and Social Studies. These tablets are a great resource for review of course work and one which the students thoroughly enjoy.
Stand Tall remains ready to do everything we can for a smooth and successful integration back into the educational system. We all have our work cut out for us but we have no doubt that we will succeed. After all, our motto is Success, Nothing Less!