The next four days we are shadowing different departments under the Orphans and Family Support Program. It is really interesting to see how big the reach of Kitovu really is in this area.
Today and tomorrow we are shadowing the Grandmother’s program. For those who don’t know what the Grandmother’s program does, it provides support to grandmothers who are taking care of their grandchildren. Kitovu provides social support to grandmothers, financial support for the children’s schooling and other assistance to help both the children thrive academically and the grandmothers to be self-sustaining.
Sharon, Dan (staff at Kitovu) and Joan (an intern at Kitovu) took us to eight different schools that have students who are supported by Kitovu and so that the student’s school fees can be paid. It is really amazing to see the differences between the different school as well as the difference in schooling compared to the United States. We went to schools with 1000 total students enrolled to as small as 350 students.
Many of us graduated from school with graduating classes much bigger than 350 and for some of us bigger than 1000. Think back to how big your class size was and how big your school building was. The high school building always seemed too small no matter how big it was right? The schools we saw today were about 4 to 5 buildings with about 4 to 5 classrooms in each building. – not very big with respect to the number kids that are enrolled in the school. If you guys have read Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “David and Goliath” there is a chapter on how class size is correlated with student performance. Visiting all the schools today made me think about this chapter a lot. The book had a series of upside down U-Curves that have the worst performance in the fall right and far left (so having too little kids and too many kids in a classroom). Classrooms in Uganda are the far far right, there are A LOT of students in one classroom. The majority of the classrooms that we peeked into had 50-80 students, reciting things off the board as the teacher points with her ruler. I knew going in that schooling is totally different between Uganda and the United States, but going to so many different schools first hand, it really hit home.
I personally had a pretty hard time today going from school to school, and talking with the students who are supported by Kitovu. We talked to students who want to become doctors, scientists, journalists, teachers, engineers and everything in between. Even though they are from backgrounds that are not the most fostering of an education, they LOVE going to school. We asked one student who was the head girl at her school and who wants to be an engineer if she liked studying and the response was an overwhelming YES! It was really inspiring to see the students we talked to see how much they love school and what they want to be after secondary school. Next time I am in classes and just don’t feel like going to class, I’m going to try to be more thankful of the opportunities that are given to me as a NEU student because there are students all over the world who want an education but just don’t have the means for one.