Bwoga Elementary School Head teacher

The other day my 3rd grader came home with an important question. “Mummy,” he called, “why don’t I have a boy teacher?” I thought for a moment, and then responded with a smile. “Yohan,” I said, “I don’t understand your question, please explain.” He paused for a moment and then said, “Mummy, since Kindergarten I have not had a boy teacher at school.” He sounded genuinely surprised. “And guess what Mummy,” he continued, “my piano teacher is a girl, my swimming teacher is a girl, and my choir teacher is a girl too!”  “Yohan,” I said, “it is because girl teachers are awesome”. Yohan smiled and dashed to the kitchen to get himself a honey-avocado sandwich.

I find my son’s question very relevant, especially as we celebrate women in the month of March. I see women as the great nurturers of life. They go, I believe, where many men dare not go. The harder places! Think of nursing homes, daycare centers, …, and those poorly equipped elementary schools. It’s in these places where you will find them–many life-changing women.

 

Talking of poorly equipped schools and life-changing women, I am delighted to give a loud shout out to Mrs. Jenive Atukunda, the resilient headteacher of my alma mater – Bwoga Primary School–in western Uganda. Jenive came to Bwoga when the school was in a bad state: poor attendance (especially from girls), poor performance, poor … everything! Despite many challenges, Jenive is working hard to transform the school. She is trying hard to give her students a shot in life, through education. Even without adequate facilities, Jenive has improvised a boarding for upper primary (middle school) kids. This effort, she affirms, has increased attendance, and focus on academics. Before covid hit, Jenive saw one student qualify for high school, and encouraged by this small success, she is working hard to see more students achieve the same. Jenive is not only involved in the school but also in the whole community of Bwoga. She is trying hard to ‘enlighten’ the community about the importance of education. This is a needed effort given that less than 3% of Bwoga’s population has completed high school.

As Jenive and I chatted over zoom the other day, I asked her how she has been able to put electricity in the upper primary classes. “Where there is will, there is way,” she said with a smile. She said that she had organized a fundraiser assisted by parents of the school. She added that although the power goes off sometimes, it has been a great resource to her students. “But I do have many problems, my dear,” she said, noting that she has no water at the school—students walk to a nearby stream to fetch water, and that her boarding students sleep in two of their classes because there are no dormitories. So, her students use the class during the day for academic work and at night for sleeping.

Child fetching water
Classroom without roof

To add to Jenive’s many problems, one of the lower-class blocks at Bwoga Elementary school was damaged by heavy rain/wind a few weeks ago. I remember taking classes in this same block! It’s a sad situation but an opportunity to serve. A completed library (BEL) will be helpful in such situations, especially when we think of a place where kindergarten and first grade kids could still hold classes. Your support of Bwoga Elementary Library (BEL) will help in many ways, including empowering local women leaders like Jenive—a woman who is going the extra mile, with a smile to transform the Bwoga community through education.

 

Sarah

BEL.