Hope Integrated Academy, in the Masaka District, south central Uganda, was conceived in 2005, and construction began in 2006. It aims to provide a practical education that equips students with life-skills. The sensible reasoning is that once they possess key skills, the children are far more likely to succeed in life, to believe in themselves and to take responsibility for their lives.
Inline with the views of most educational experts, they see a good foundation education as the key to breaking the cycle of poverty that plagues rural Africa. By enabling students to help themselves, they accept responsibility for their own education and the education of their peers and elders, starting an educational chain that benefits the entire community around them.
When students have a stake in their own learning, and can see the benefits, they tend to grab at opportunities with enthusiasm and dedication. As the Academy’s own web site explains “By empowering the mind, soul, and spirit, our students gain the skills and confidence needed to take charge of their own destiny and make meaningful contribution to a thriving community in the 21st century and beyond.”
By providing both formal and practical education, the Academy hopes to deliver an education that is both academic and practical ;something it could be argued is lost in many western curricula where ‘applied knowledge’ often plays second fiddle to theory and fact.
In Africa, where education is neither a right nor an expectation for most, practical education is of paramount education. A person who understands how to build a well can have water to drink; a person who understands only why there is water below the surface will die of thirst. But a person who understands both will be able to find sites for wells and build them, helping the whole community.
At present the Academy is only used for after school activities whilst funding and construction continue, but it is hoped that the vocational courses will start this year (2008).
Many of the 500 children who will use the school have little other hope of finding a way out of poverty. An anticipated 60 percent of the pupils will be from families destroyed by AIDS. Most of these pupils will have no relatives to care for them, and if left unaided, will be in serious danger of starving to death. The alternatives for such children include becoming involved in crime or being abused – not because they want to, but because faced with starvation and death, any route to survival becomes worth considering. The other 200 children will be drawn from the local communities.
Plans for the Academy are ambitious, including a kindergarten, elementary school (grades 1 – 7), vocational training school, a community library, a computer training centre, and a health clinic. As well as sport, music, dance and drama are included in the curriculum, acting both as an education in their own right but also as media through which other issues can be explored.
More about the roles of each of these facilities can be found at the Hope Academy Web Site.
There will be permanent staff to look after the pupils and to teach, but the school also seeks volunteers to help with a wide range of tasks, from building work through to teaching.
It will be truly a community project, offering help to adults as well as the young. Literacy rates in Uganda are climbing but are still far too low if poverty is to be beaten, so classes in basic literacy, Business English and basic math. Vocational skills and computer training will be open to adults as well.
If you would like to know more about the Hope Academy, or would be interested in voluntering to help, visit the links below…
Copyright in the images used on this page lies with the Hope Integrated Academy who kindly gace permission for us to use them. These and many more pictures of the Academy can be seen by visiting their galleries
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