The Student:Teacher ratio in Uganda is 45:1, according to a 2013 study by UNESCO. Outside of school, children in Gulu have very limited options for getting extra help on their homework- teachers are busy, and there are few other programs in the area providing extra help. Many children, especially those from impoverished or refugee families, struggle to keep up.
Yearly standardized exams have shown that the area of study that children in Gulu struggle the most with is English. As well as being the Ugandan national language, English is the most commonly spoken language in Africa and the world. For our students to achieve change and leadership in their larger communities, a good control of the English language is necessary.
Computer literacy is also a prerequisite for an increasing amount of jobs in East Africa. Uganda is developing quickly, and equipping our students to keep up with and lead this development means providing education in basic computer science.
Hope Center Uganda gives twice-weekly classes to the 77 local children enrolled in our program. These children are broken down into three classes based on age and ability, all of which are taught by our teacher, Mirriam Orumu, who graduated from Gulu University with a degree in Computer Science.
Older children learn about topics like civic responsibility and public health in order to practice their English, expanding their perspectives and their lexicon for relevant issues. Younger children work through the alphabet, colours, and numbers to gradually and steadily grow their skill set.
Computer science classes are currently offered to only our oldest set of students, as we are limited to a 6-piece computer lab. These youth are educated in the basics of Microsoft Suite and online tasks such as e-mail and using search engine. We stress the importance that “Facebook is not the internet” by encouraging youth to use the web to research issues that are important to them and keep up with the news.
In interviews with parents in June 2016, almost all noticed an increase in good behavior: their children would do their homework right when they got home from school, and even say their prayers before bed, because their “teacher told them to.” Quantitative impact can be seen by the fact that 100% of students enrolled in HCU have remained in school since beginning our program.
Meet our kids!
HCU Digital Yearbook, August 2017