I have pleasure in attaching the 9th Annual Report of Uganda Humanist Schools Trust.
The Humanist Schools in Uganda have made huge progress in the past two years. They are beginning to turn in very respectable results in national examinations, such that both Isaac Newton and Mustard Seed School are among the top 5 schools in their districts and, as a result of this success, are becoming schools of choice for local families. There is huge pressure to get local children into the schools, which are recognised as having high standards of welfare as well as good educational performance. Children leaving the schools are get good jobs, which boost their family incomes, many go on to vocational courses to gain craft skills, nursing and primary and secondary teaching qualifications and a growing number go on to degree and postgraduate study in good universities.
In 5 years the number of children in each school has increased from about 150 to over 500. This is a welcome development because it shows a growing acceptance of secular humanist education in highly religious communities. The growth, however, puts huge pressure on infrastructure and learning resources. We are very grateful to all our supporters for sticking with us to develop the schools and we are receiving help from Humanists in the United States, in particular from St. Louis Ethical Society members, who have raised large additional sums to help the schools.
In 2017 we awarded grants of over £140,000. This is a record for a single year. This included money for 129 full boarding scholarships of £300, to enable children who gain a grade 1 in their primary leaving certificate and who are orphaned or come from very poor homes to attend a Humanist school. We have increased spending on books, learning materials, science practical equipment and chemicals, and computers. We feel that developing the ability of students to learn independently is the essence of a humanist education, so we are committed to maintaining a book rich environment in the schools. In the period 2016-8 we have made great strides with improving infrastructure. At Isaac Newton School we have funded: a second girls’ hostel, a new teaching block with 3 classrooms and a science lab, and connected the school and neighbouring communities to mains electricity. Mustard Seed School has received funds for: a new teaching block with 4 classrooms and staff rooms, connection of the school to high pressure mains water from a pumping and purification station on the River Nile, and we are about to embark on a new school hall that will be used for meetings, concerts and examinations.
Thanks to your ongoing support the schools are being gradually transformed so that they stand out among rural schools for the quality of their facilities and for offering educational and welfare standards that approach the standards of the best urban schools.
Since our charity began in November 2008, with your help, we have built up these schools from small, struggling entities to organisations we can all feel proud to be associated with. Making them self-sustaining and beacons of secular humanism is still our goal and we are getting closer, but they will need our help for some time yet. Please stay with us on the journey.