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Sunday, September 28, 2014

did you know...

St. Mary Kevin Children's Home cares for 180 orphans from ages 4-18 years.  Of those orphans, 55 are currently attending Secondary School from Senior 1- Senior 6.  For the 2014 Academic Year, Change The Truth has been able to offer full financial sponsorship to 30 of SMK’s Secondary students. The other students receive financial supports from their guardians and the administration of SMK.
A brief overview of Ugandan schools: the academic year begins in February and ends in November.  The school year is divided into three terms each with a duration of three months (February-April; middle May-August; September-December).  Students then have a holiday break for about three weeks between terms.  Students in Senior 1 & Senior 2 take 16 classes of study.  In Senior 3 & Senior 4, students will reduce to ten classes.  Required classes for Senior 1- Senior 4 include English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, and Geography.  The remaining elective, enrichment classes are a combination of Foreign Languages (Luganda, Kiswahili, French); Religious Studies (Christian, Islam); Fine Art; Business Studies (Commerce, Entrepreneurship); Computer; Agriculture; and Literature.  Finally, students in Senior 5 & Senior 6 will choose 4 courses for advanced studies in academic preparations for their future career path. 

Due to the expense of daily transportation and the rigorous academic schedule, the overwhelming majority of Ugandan students board at school during their 3-month school terms.  This arrangement provides students the opportunity to focus solely on academic studies. As well, schools have the liberty to schedule students to maximize their academic exposures.  It is typical for Ugandan students to begin their school day as early as 5 a.m. with individual revisions inside their classroom, attend regular classes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then re-enter classes in the evening after supper to complete class assignments until at least 9:30 p.m.  Since the academic climate in Uganda is solely performance driven, students must maximize their efforts for the best grades to qualify for higher level of education.

Ugandan schools base a student’s academic performance exclusively on two examinations.  One examination is issued at the Beginning of Term, usually during the first two weeks of the term.  The other examination is at the End of Term, usually within the last three weeks of the term’s conclusion.  An average of those examinations provides the student’s final grade with no consideration given to class attendance, class participation, or completion of assignments.  Therefore, when students return home to SMK during their one-month holidays, they return with the responsibility to review the term’s subject matter to ensure a thorough understanding, as well as look forward to the topics of next term to gain some fundamental knowledge prior to topic’s official introduction in the classroom. 

With the assistance of the Good People Fund, CTT has been able to provide SMK with a Holiday Enrichment Program for the Secondary School orphans during the school holidays the past few years.   This year the primary focus was placed on academic courses in several of the required classes.  Students also had the opportunity for Computer studies, Career Guidance experiences and coaching, as well as various enrichment activities. 

Thank you, Good People Fund, for this valuable assist. And thank you, Melissa, for this excellent overview!

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