In the last blog, I mentioned that the Primary 7 children were in preparation for their Primary Leaving Examinations which the students said went very well. At the end of their last day of exams they all arrived back from the examination centre on the back of a pick up truck waving little white paper hats. All the Primary School cheered them as they arrived and they celebrated the end of term with a leaving party which Naomi and I attended. The next day they all departed after giving each other lots of sweets, I got some tasty humbug type sweets so was rather happy!
On the week of the 15th, it was the Secondary School exams at St Zoe, the previous week I had given endless revision exercises and continuously given questions in Prep. Mathematics in the Secondary section is a subject that is performed weakly, so after poor mid-term results I was really hoping for some improvement. I had worked mostly with Senior 1 and 2 students, so as I waited in the staff room for them to finish their papers so I could mark them, I genuinely felt nervous! Thankfully the student’s hard work paid off and there was a great improvement in their results. In Senior 1, almost all the students passed with 55% or above and in Senior 2 half the class passed with 50% or above, a huge improvement on the 3 that passed in the mid terms. I was particularly impressed with Robert in Senior 1 who got 69 out of 70 and Frederick in Senior 2 who came from being at the bottom of the class in Maths in the mid term exam to 3rd highest; both of these students (who are brothers) worked really hard to get their result, so I treated them both to a pack of Coca Cola playing cards. Across all the subjects the end of term exams went well with improvement in many of the subjects and all students have been promoted to the next year. The Director has also come up with a very good idea; he has decided that those students who get a 70% or above average in their end of term exams, can receive a school fees bursary for next term. If they can maintain the required percentage each term then they will continue to get the bursary. This term 5 children achieved the percentage required; from Senior 1, Michael, Happy and Oliver and from Senior 2, Bruno and George William. All 5 of these children are not only naturally intelligent but also work tirelessly to achieve their grades, always complete their homework first and give themselves extra work. Both Bruno and Oliver are from the same family and are also day scholars, their family works hard to fund their school fees so the bursary will greatly help. I think the bursaries are a fantastic idea as not only does it reward those students that work extra hard, but it also encourages healthy competition between students and a very good incentive to make them perform to their best ability.
During the last week of term the students relax and get ready to leave for the holidays. A sports gala was held in which the classes competed against each other in netball, football and volleyball. The girl’s football match was particularly amusing with literally all the girls legging it after the football, screaming from one side of the pitch to the other! The day before the students left Naomi and I organised an end of term dance for the Secondary students; decorations included 70 balloons personally blown up by Naomi and I! All the students had a great time and of course Naomi and I had a good dance as well. The following day on Friday the 26th, the students received their reports and then departed via various modes of transport, most on bodabodas with their huge tin suitcases and mattresses strapped on the back! In the evening Naomi and I went back to school and it was so strange to see an empty school-we wanted the students back.
On Saturday was the Get Together Party for both the Primary and Secondary staff members of St Zoe; there were also invited guests which included parents and other directors of the school. This was a full day occasion comprising of a speech from the Director and a speech from Master Lauben and Master Tamukedde with their end of term reports for the Primary and Secondary sections. Their was also a speech reviewing the ‘Think tank workshop’, this was very interesting to here about and was very productive in its aims to improve the school, addressing problems such as litter around the school and over-crowding in the dormitories. We then got a special lunch all prepared by staff members, Naomi and I played our part- first witnessing the slaughtering, skinning and then cutting of 2 goats, I then used my farmer background to chop chickens into 8 or so pieces-my mum (who is a butcher) would be very proud! The lunch was really delicious and everyone had humungous plates full, there was also a selection of sodas and beers. After a very hunger satisfying lunch, the non-teaching staff members held the equivalent of a secret santa-this was a really fun event with each member dancing around with their present before giving their gift and then they would dance together. It was really joyous and everyone had a right good time clapping along to the music. After that we had a small dinner sat outside in the school gardens, which was also very tasty. Then there were lots of photos taken and finally a dance until very late. The day was really lovely and the staff had put a lot of hard work into making the occasion special, it was nice to see interactions between the staff members of Primary and Secondary. I feel that this kind of interaction between both schools will lead to better co-operation in the future, which is how it should be. The event was a brilliant way to end the term.
So now all the students have left and the teachers are departing back home swiftly for Christmas, although we are still a little in disbelief that it is nearly Christmas with the sun shining away as brightly as ever. The school is very empty although this afternoon I witnessed a match between the locals on the school pitch, there were men in brightly coloured shirts everywhere. They were using the football given to them by the school for the work that they have done in clearing the weeds across the school, which was good to see-they do love their football in Uganda!
Tomorrow Naomi and I are heading off to Kampala and then Rwanda as we need to renew our visas by the 3rd, otherwise we will be highly illegal. Aside form the goings on at St Zoe the main event in Uganda at the moment is the forthcoming elections which is creating a buzz across the country. Every available space in Kampala has been taken by candidate posters! That is all for now, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.