Teopista is 10 but hasn't yet been to school. The reason will shock you.

Teopista's teachers say she is a sweet, affectionate child and a joy to be around.

She is almost 10, and hasn't yet been able to go to school for a reason that's hard to comprehend in Australia.  

She is deaf.

Because of her profound deafness, Teopista hasn't been able to communicate with her family. 

In Uganda it is estimated there are two million Ugandan children who have been excluded from Uganda’s education system simply because they have special needs.

Because the illiteracy rate amongst adults is at 78%, parents of special needs children simply don’t understand why their children are developmentally or physically delayed. Instead of fighting for their children’s rights, children with special needs are often hidden away out of sight - for fear of stigmatization, shame and rejection from the community. 

Even though Teopista lives within 2kms of our school grounds, her parents haven't sent her to school because she isn't able to communicate with them.

At School for Life, we have trained teachers who cater for a variety of our special needs children.

Our special needs teacher Joseph is himself deaf, and is therefore perfectly suited to educate Teopista, and to teach her and her parents how to sign so that Teopista is able to communicate with her family, her friends and our teachers. 

We have been able to find all the Lugandan (the local Ugandan language) sign language tools in Uganda so that we can provide signing charts to Teopista's parents to also help her learn at home. We are also teaching all students and teachers how to sign, so that the entire school community is able to communicate with Teopista. 

The video below shows Teopista communicating good morning in Lugandan sign language. 

Meet the teacher - Christine Alice

Christine Alice is a teacher at School for Life's Mbazzi campus, where she teaches Primary 1. 

School for Life teacher Christine Alice 

School for Life teacher Christine Alice 

Christine Alice first heard about School for Life when she was studying at Teacher's College, saying her first impression of the school was that the students were so happy. 

I felt so impressed when I first saw the school. When I came to hand in my application the children were practising for a speech day. It blew me away to see so many children, so happy.
— Christine Alice

Christine Alice is the fourth-born child from six siblings, and the only child who has received a tertiary education. Her father had another two children and tragically their mother died, leaving the family with eight mouths to feed. 

“My brothers and my parents work together selling many things: cabbages, carrots, potatoes and whatever else they can find to sell. My brother Fred buys vegetables from those who grow them and brings them home to sell. My brothers and parents support our family. It meant I could go to school.”

Her two youngest brothers are still in primary school, and Christine Alice says she will fight for them to be educated as it is the only way to break the cycle of poverty. 

“My older brothers will do anything for work,” she explained. "Because they worked I was able to receive my training as a teacher, and my full-time salary will also help my family and I will be able to repay them," she said.

Growing up in a big family is typical in Uganda.

“I was the only girl with lots of brothers who looked after me. They gave me lots of care, like the princess in the family.”

Luckily for Christine Alice, she had been able to maintain her studies without having any time off.

“I love being with young kids and I can’t wait to teach literacy. I love storytelling. Early Childhood Development and music are my areas of expertise. I just love teaching so much!”

We know Christine Alice will create many happy memories with her students throughout the year and look forward to seeing all that she achieves with School for Life.

A simple solution to the complex problem of homework in developing nations

A simple solution to the complex problem of homework in developing nations

Completing homework is a problem in developing countries like Uganda, where only 1% of the population has access to electricity. Children complete chores, fetch water or work for their families after school, leaving no time for study. After a student at School for Life was seriously burnt by a kerosene lamp when studying, we found a solution to this complex problem which is surprisingly simple. 

My Two Years as a Peace Corps Volunteer at School for Life

School for Life Foundation has been lucky to have an American Peace Corps volunteer living at our Katuuso campus for the past two years. Greg has become a valued member of the School for Life community - he will be remembered for his passion for reading and for his dedication to the the school's library. 

Greg's shares his School for Life experience in this blog. 

Working with children is an art form anywhere in the world, even though I had a degree in International Studies and had taken a crash course in literacy and ESL language studies, I had an incredibly steep learning curve. I also had to learn the local language consider the local culture, curriculum, language, and school culture.

However the assistance, guidance, and patience of my fellow teachers was invaluable as I helped out in classes, especially with regards to teaching English Literacy. One of the initiatives I worked on while at School for Life was our monthly D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Days. On the last Thursday of each month, all classes and staff members stop normal lessons and activities to find a shady or secluded spot to participate in group read-alouds, small group reading, or individual reading for up to an hour. Monthly D.E.A.R. Days became a fun, exciting opportunity to break out of the normal routine and celebrate reading as a community. In addition to focusing on literacy-related activities around the community during my first year, I also worked with other teachers to design and implement lessons around Permagarden construction in conjunction with nutrition education and healthy living education that included lessons on disease prevention, cleanliness, sexual health, and stress management.

The life lessons I learnt living in a rural African village about living simply, appreciating what I have, and above all, the power of literacy and education will stay with me for the rest of my days
— Greg, Peace Corps Volunteer

As my first year at Katuuso Primary came to a close, I found myself more and more gravitating to the school library. Not only was it a well-equipped and colourful learning space, we were also fortunate enough to have a collection of quality reading materials sent from Australia in addition to an impressive collection of locally-published readers – some written in Luganda language.

In the library I saw great, untapped potential. I first implemented a more functional organisational system, separating books into fiction, non-fiction, genre and reading level sections, and locally-published sections. I next came up with a regime of library rules and community expectations that all classes were trained on over the course of months. Instead of conducting lessons in classrooms, I found that everyone’s time could be best spent in the library, teaching and learning how to use the space most effectively. Over the course of the year, I also gave several workshops to the teaching staff about how to use the space, the basics of literacy, and how to perform an effective class read-aloud using critical thinking comprehension questions.

When it comes to broadening the horizons of people of all ages and cultural backgrounds, maps are a great way to illustrate the diversity of the globe. Orienting someone in time and space with the aid of a quality map can be the start of deep new understanding of the wider world outside of one’s respective bubble. For this reason, I also took on the project of painting a wall-sized world map one on the walls in the library. As a space of learning and reading, a world map perfectly complements a children’s library. At 3 metres by 1.5 metres, our library’s world map displays the names of more than 200 countries and territories in 7 vibrant colours, indicates the equator, and has a compass.

When the map was complete (it took six weeks), I wrote “Our World” around the perimeter of the map in the 15 most widely-spoken world languages, as well as in Luganda. For the second half of 2016, one of my favourite things to do was give short geography and history lessons to students visiting the library. What amazed me most about the map was the curiosity of our children and their hunger for knowledge of the wider world. Along with the geography lessons and games, I played music from around the world and sang in other languages.

I also implemented a library monitor programme training 20 mini-librarians. These students were trained on how to teach the library's rules, guide readers on proper book selection, and how to use the book organisation system. As responsibility and accountability was handed over to these children, they relished in the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise to their peers. Over time, use of the library increased and more and more children started using learning materials.

In terms of its impact on the wider community, I believe that of all the initiatives, projects, and activities that I participated in at Katuuso Primary, working to develop the functionality and proper usage of the library was the most valuable and will have the most positive impacts for years to come.

Now, two years later, my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer at Katuuso Primary has now come to a close.  I feel overjoyed at the opportunity I was afforded to grow personally and professionally while also helping a Ugandan community to develop.

The life lessons I learnt living in a rural African village about living simply, appreciating what I have, and above all, the power of literacy and education will stay with me for the rest of my days.

In Katuuso Village, I saw first-hand the power of education to change lives, broaden horizons, and empower people with knowledge to change the world.

The slogan of School for Life – “Education Changes Everything” – should never be taken as just a slogan or platitude. It is a fundamental truth of the human experience. I got to live this first-hand for two years and for that I will be forever grateful to the School for Life and Peace Corps Uganda staff, fellow teachers, and students who have left their mark on me forever.

As I now finish my two years of Peace Corps service at School for Life Foundation, it's worth reflecting about how much has changed in this time. The community, the school, the staff, and students have grown and developed and it has been the opportunity of a lifetime and such a privilege to witness this growth first-hand over two infinitely rewarding years.

Help us educate 160 new students in 2017

Help us educate 160 new students in 2017

Please give generously this Christmas and help us educate 160 new students in 2017. 

Uganda is a predominately Christian country, however Santa won’t be dropping off presents to most children who live here. In contrast to Australian kids, Ugandan children don’t want presents – what they would prefer is the freedom and opportunity that comes with having an education, access to clean running water, nutritious meals and healthcare.

School for Life has 160 new students starting in 2017, bringing the total number of children in our care to 560, with 125 teachers and staff. We have set the ambitious target of raising $80,000 over the next 59 days to set up our new 160 students with everything they need to have the best start to the New Year.


Join us in Uganda for the opening of our secondary school!

Join us in Uganda for the opening of our secondary school!

You're invited to come along with our CEO and Co-Founder Annabelle to meet our School for Life students, teachers and staff in Uganda. This is your chance to see exactly where your fundraising dollars go and to celebrate the official opening of Mbazzi Riverside School. You’ll get a view of Ugandan life like no other when you come with us to our schools where you’ll be greeted with open arms by our students and staff. After your time at school you can head off on a wildlife safari to see Africa’s animals up close, including the rare mountain gorillas.

Nat + Mel take up our Kilimanjaro challenge

Nat + Mel take up our Kilimanjaro challenge

Here at School for Life we're fortunate to have some incredible supporters who go above and beyond for us. Mel and Nat are two of those amazing people. They were both among the first people to sign up for our Kilimanjaro: Trek for our Teachers challenge next year. Today we're learning the ins and outs of why they wanted to take up this challenge and how they plan to raise at least $4000 each for our teachers...

Changing lives with our Adult Literacy Program

Changing lives with our Adult Literacy Program

Our Project Coordinator, Kessia Lum, shares the inspiring stories of the graduates from our Adult Literacy Program in rural Uganda.

Last week, I sat and spoke to Winnie for thirty minutes. She told me all about her life, in English. One year ago, Winnie could not speak a word of English.