Soroptimist International of Dunfermline

Soroptimist International of Dunfermline is part of a global volunteer movement of women, working together to transform the lives of women and girls, by working at a local, national and international level to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls.

The aim of our project is to improve the educational attainments in five rural schools in Kyondo sub-county in the Rwenzori district of Western Uganda. We’ll do this by providing a solar panel for each school to provide lighting for the classrooms and by providing extra text books.

In Primary 7, pupils sit the Primary School Leaving Examinations. Passing these determines whether they can continue to secondary education and which quality of secondary school they can attend. This significantly influences their employment opportunities. Even without continuing to secondary school, passing P7 exams enables them to find better jobs and educated spouses. There are approximately 50 pupils in Primary 7 in each school and it is these 250 pupils whom we wish to help particularly.

There is no electricity available in the villages and, with the limited paraffin lamps available, study is not feasible after it gets dark at 6.30pm. With Solar power, the hours available for study will be extended for two to three hours each evening and the children will board at the school during the week to take advantage of this evening study period.

There are set textbooks for the four subjects in the syllabus, and currently there are insufficient to allow easy studying, so we’ll supply extra sets of textbooks to each school, as well as a workbook of practise exam papers for each subject for each pupil.

These items will make a significant difference to these rural schools. Currently groups of pupils have to share textbooks and paraffin lamps, when these are available, in order to study. Such a light source is not really suitable for reading and study. Solar power will assist the Primary 7 pupils this year, and also in future years.

We have been working within the area for two years and will partner with a local organisation, the Rwenzori Organisation for Children Living in Difficult Circumstances (ROCDiC), who work to improve the lives of children in the smaller villages in the valley. This project is part of our ongoing work to improve education facilities in this area of Uganda, by extending our support to smaller schools further down the valley. The benefits to families and to the community are in raising the educational attainments of the children and their job prospects. Education is the way forward in raising communities above the poverty level in the longer term. Much else is needed as well as our contribution, but each initiative adds to the wellbeing of the community and its ability to function adequately.