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Beacons for Humanism in Africa: Uganda Humanist Schools Latest News

By Steve Hurd

Chairperson of the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust. Steve is pictured above on the right, with his son Dan and wife Hilary.

UHST Supporters Update March 2023 – Visit to Uganda in February

Our son Dan, a UHST Trustee, took some extra leave from his accountancy job to make his first visit to the Humanist schools. In a short 13-day trip we made long drives on worsening roads to visit five schools, and took three essential rest days, to give Dan an opportunity to see some of Uganda’s wonderful wildlife. Foreign Office advice, following recent fatal attacks from the Congo, prevented us from travelling West to Kanungu, Katumba and Kasese Schools. We hope to visit these schools on our next visit if the threat has eased.

Humanist schools in Uganda educate more than 4000 students (geographic positions are approximate).

Children were trickling back for the start of the school year after helping their parents with crop planting. We were shown the state of the buildings. Most are standing up well, but shabbiness quickly sets in with dust from the red soil and some essential maintenance was needed – not least the replacement of dangerously cracking ceilings at Mustard Seed Secondary School.

We always meet current scholarship students. Hilary talks with them to assess their mood and concerns. We always find them to be happy in their schools. The common complaints from some are about the monotony of the food, growing out of their school uniforms and the need for even more books. Dan enjoyed doing some teaching with Entrepreneurship students. I gave a talk and showed videos to 100 Senior 4 students about Uganda’s new oil industry. This set the scene for a closely argued debate on whether the industry will do more harm than good. Those arguing in favour of the oil industry had a narrow win.

We saw the positive impact of donations from UHST supporters, and teachers and children asked us to convey thanks to their “friends overseas”.

“We urgently need sponsors for 10 additional Senior 1 students who require day scholarships of £20 a month to study at Municipal Humanist High School.”

Scholarships – Our scholarship programme gives 162 bright children from challenging backgrounds a lifeline to a better future. We urgently need sponsors for 10 additional Senior 1 students who require day scholarships of £20 a month to study at Municipal Humanist High School, Kasese. We have been supporting the children from general funds, but each child is looking for someone to sponsor the rest of their schooling.

Donations – Regular unrestricted donations help to improve children’s welfare and education. They ensure that schools have clean water, power, clean toilets, books, science and other learning resources, including kit for sports, music and art. In 2024, with over 3,000 children in Humanist schools, more books and learning resources are needed than ever.

Afripads – The girls hugely appreciate the packs of reusable sanitary pads which they receive each year thanks to the fundraising efforts of members of the Ethical Society of St Louis. Provision of Afripads has levelled the playing field for girls, whose attendance and attainment now matches that of boys.

Help for Needy Orphans – We really value a developing partnership with our friends from Humanist Aid and Kalmar Humanists in Sweden, who have taken a keen interest in supporting the most disadvantaged orphans at Katumba and Kasese Schools. The funds they provide enable Katumba and Kasese Schools to keep some of the most marginalised children in school.

Infrastructure – Our normal flow of donations is generally insufficient to pay for buildings. So, it came as a shock when a structural survey condemned buildings at Isaac Newton Primary School that we had purchased from an Evangelical Christian foundation during Covid. We used money from a 2021 appeal to build kindergarten classrooms and a school kitchen. A British humanist living in Greece sent funds for a 4-classrom block for Junior-age children. A young couple from the Ethical Society of St Louis facilitated the provision of additional toilets and work on 3 Infant-age classrooms. Teachers and children were reconciled to making do with sub-standard facilities. They are now delighted that these generous donations will see them in fine new buildings in Term 2.

Eagle’s View Humanist Primary School – This is a new Humanist School established by Rogers Muwanguzi. Rogers gained his humanist inspiration during his time as a student at Mustard Seed Humanist School. Eagle’s View school is in a deprived community where no child had previously completed primary education. UHST wants to help but we want to avoid becoming over-extended, so take care to ensure that we can see a new project through. As a first step, Eagle’s View must set up a ring-fenced bank account and transparent accounting procedures. The school needs a lot – including 10 classrooms, a new kitchen and toilets. If they can come up with acceptable proposals at reasonable cost then a long-term UHST supporter is willing to help.

International Friendship Visit to the Schools – We are beginning to plan the 4th Humanist Schools Conference. This is earmarked for June 2025, and will be the culmination of our next International Friendship Visit. Full details will come later, but we would welcome expressions of interest from supporters.

Thanks to the long-term commitment of UHST supporters, the Humanist Schools are doing well. However, a school is never finished. There is much that can be done to make them better, but they are gradually becoming the beacons for humanism that we had all hoped for.

Supporting the Humanist Schools

If you feel you or your group would like to help us to support the Humanist Schools in Uganda, or to sponsor a high school student then please contact (07773 972601).

Donation forms can be found at:

+44 (0) 1782 750338

All administration costs, including trips to Uganda to visit the schools, are paid for on a personal basis by our trustees, so every £1 donated by our supporters goes to help the schools in Uganda.

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2 commentaires

Eric Hayman
Eric Hayman
01 avr.

Considering the Humanist take on non-heterosexual activities, and Uganda still making them illegal after over 60 years as an independent country, why was this country chosen as an outpost of Humanism? Are the schools trying to undo what Christian missionaries began well over 100 years ago?

En réponse à

The humanist schools in Uganda were a local initiative - not 'chosen' by anyone else. The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust supports them. But yes, let's hope that humanism will spread!

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