Once a partner school has graduated from EPAfrica’s investment programme, the link is not broken once project workers have bid their farewells to the school: EPAfrica maintains a close network of prospective, current and alumni schools within the Mbarara area to maximise its impact. As part of the maintenance of this network, a faction of the 2016 Mbarara Project Workers visited Nombe Secondary to measure how far the school has progressed since EPAfrica’s 2014 project workers completed their project.
Language barriers and arguments with matatu drivers aside, the group began the thirty minute hike up to Nombe Secondary. The prospect of a group arrival selfie did not materialise as we were quickly greeted at the gates and directed to the headmaster’s office. The staff, although disappointed that the 2014 project workers would not be making an appearance, were nonetheless very friendly and welcoming.
The head teacher had nothing but praise for the efforts of the 2014 project workers, and recognised an improvement within the past two years in terms of grades and teacher attendance. The following hour was spent in the head teacher’s office receiving a thorough account of the school’s data, ranging from the number of staff and pupils to performance in national exams. In addition to the collection of school data, project workers Amanda and Bessie ensured that the group would leave with a number of important value judgements from the head, including what he deemed to be the most positive aspects of Nombe Secondary, as well as the areas in most need of improvement. Once the hour was up, we had already gained a valuable insight into EPAfrica’s contribution towards the recent successes of Nombe Secondary.
With relevant data now collected, it was time for a tour of the school in order to see the improvements for ourselves. The library was the first stop, a focal point of the 2014 investment budget, with the project workers bringing in brand new textbooks and shelves, as well as performing the more administrative task of improving the organisation of texts. The headmaster’s praises were not unfounded, and we were pleased to see the shelves well-stocked with a comprehensive range of books, all in pristine condition. The room was well-organised as a whole and seemed to be a comfortable working environment.
The group were then directed to the school nurse, who took great pride in showcasing her room. The nurse emphasised the importance of the dividing wall introduced by EPAfrica, and we were pleased to see that the sickbed introduced by the 2014 project workers was still being utilised.
Next, we were directed to the science laboratories. The head very enthusiastically introduced us to the water tank installed by EPAfrica, explaining how the science labs now have a secure and plentiful water supply for use in practical experiments. The stock room was impeccably organised, boasting an array of chemicals and equipment. Given the ease at which these resources can be accessed, it is unsurprising that the students’ achievement within science has improved within the last two years, and provides another example of an investment made by past EPAfrica volunteers which has led to positive and sustainable change within the school community.
Upon gifting the head teacher a brand new football, our trip to Nombe Secondary had come to an end. The visit was definitely a success, and the group left with a shared sense of optimism that we too could instigate sustainable improvements within our schools over the following ten weeks.