Uganda: JRS hands over newly constructed school facilities to the community
08 November 2018

JRS Uganda country director, Fr Frido Pflueger, unveiling the new classroom block at Itula Secondary School, Moyo district (JRS)

Moyo, 8 October 2018 - “The development of the school with the help of JRS has made us girls stay in school”, says 17-year-old Thiodorah, a student at Itula Secondary School from South Sudan. The school, located in Moyo district, northern Uganda, was one of two schools which received new additional facilities during a handover ceremony presided over by Fr Frido Pflueger, new JRS Uganda country director, on October 8, 2018. The event was attended by students, parents, teachers, members of school governing boards, district officials and representative from JRS and War Child Canada (WCC).

This was the culmination of a project that run from November 2017 to October 2018 and implemented by JRS in partnership with War Child Canada (WCC) with funding from Education Cannot Wait (ECW). The goal of the project was to ensure long-term, quality and free primary and secondary education in safe learning environments for refugee and host community children in Adjumani and Moyo districts.

Uganda is known for its progressive refugee legislation which fosters local integration and refugee education is primarily the responsibility of the government. Refugee children attend existing schools within the host community. However, the large influx of refugees in northern Uganda since 2016 has overstretched government's resources and required support from humanitarian actors.

JRS is the main agency supporting secondary education in Adjumani and Moyo districts. Traditionally, this support consisted of provision of tuition and boarding fees to a limited number of students. Although this still continues, the new approach is to strengthen the capacity of schools so that they are able to enroll more students. The support JRS provides to schools includes school supplies, teacher training, paying some of the teachers' salaries and construction of school facilities.

While launching the construction works in April this year, Fr Tom Smolich, the International Director of JRS, reaffirmed JRS's commitment to the mission of educating the youth. In his address, he explained JRS's predilection for education, telling the students that "the reason that JRS believes in education is because once you have education your backpack, no one can take it away from you". He also stressed the importance of gender balance in school, saying that "our world is better when women and men participate as equals, when boys and girls have the same opportunities."

Two schools, Itula and Idiwa secondary schools, were the recipients of the new facilities. Itula Secondary School is the only government secondary school in Itula sub-county of Moyo district. The school was started by JRS in the 90s during the first influx. Built to accommodate 800 students, it currently has 1,700 enrolled students. Highly overcrowded, classes were being held under trees and classrooms had been repurposed as dormitories. Thiodorah recalls how dire the situation was when she joined the school. “We were learning outside as the rooms were not enough. Everywhere there was shortage of space due to the number of students”, she says.

Idiwa Secondary School is a community school which started in 2017 as an initiative of parents and the local community. The community offered the land and all the 24 teachers are volunteers. It has 580 enrolled students. The school suffers most of all from lack of adequate infrastructure as only two temporary classroom blocks were available.

The newly built girls dormitory, Itula secondary school (JRS)

The project sought to remedy this situation through the addition of one new 4-classroom block, one teacher’s staff house, a dormitory for girls, one 4-stance latrine with changing room and an incinerator in Itula SS and one new 4-classroom block in Idiwa SS. All the facilities have been completed and are now in full use. The new facilities have greatly improved the study conditions, according to Thiodorah. “There are no disturbances anymore”, she says. 24-year-old Annet from South Sudan agrees. She says that the new facilities offer a healthier and safer environment for the girls, which has resulted in improved performance in school.

Press Contact Information
Endashaw Debrework SJ
+254 20 3874152