Every child deserves the chance to go to school. This past year, Chaloner Children’s Charity has focused on building schools and supporting education initiatives for children living in some of the poorest and most disadvantaged countries in the world. Here is an update on some of the work that we’ve been doing with your help.
Our work in Sierra Leone
School building continues
Since 2019, Chaloner Children’s Charity Canada (CCCC) has been working with their local NGO partner in Sierra Leone to construct safe school structures in some of the most remote communities in the country. By the end of 2020, CCCC had constructed 110 permanent school structures that enable children to have an effective and safe learning environment. In 2021, CCCC committed to a program for an additional 50 schools which is now nearing completion.
We work in partnership with various communities to maximize the investment in infrastructure which promotes strong community engagement throughout. Communities are committed to providing locally available materials and unskilled labour, creating a sense of community ownership whilst also maximizing the reach of project-provided resources. The project budget covers all imported materials and skilled labour required for construction as well as transportation of materials to remote locations. Allowance has been made to secure the land survey documentation required for schools to seek government approval, which boosts the prospects of future government funding, and therefore the sustainability of investments made.
School construction update
The focus of this year’s program has been in the Southern Province of the country. There have been 31 new build constructions, which include 3 classroom structures, an office, and a storeroom. The remaining schools have been rebuilt which have replaced unsafe primitive structures. Each school is provided with furniture, and this year’s schools will benefit from ‘soft dollar’ funding. The Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FDCO) has committed to supporting the schools over a three-year period by providing learning materials, teacher training so that each school has a qualified teacher and income-generating initiatives in the communities. Teaching specialists visit the schools on a regular basis to provide ongoing coaching and mentoring for teachers in the classroom, thereby improving the learning experience of thousands of children.
The rains came early this year and made construction that much harder. Some areas became inaccessible due to poor road conditions, particularly where rivers burst their banks. Some of the most remote communities faced challenges during the delivery of imported materials such as sand. Where sand was unavailable locally, community volunteers supported the process of sourcing, hauling, and transporting from nearby communities. Although this led to delays the commitment to community provision of local materials ensured that communities remained engaged and committed to the process. The other main challenge this year was the rising cost of building materials, such as cement, paint, and fuel costs.
Despite all the challenges with this year’s program the newly constructed schools have been completed and the rebuilds will be completed by the end of the year. Many of the schools are already making the most of their school structures, and have started using their new classrooms with the opening of this academic year in September.
CCCC would like to undertake another 50 school programs in 2022, and the locations of these schools are being assessed. The majority of the schools will again be in the Southern Province and the FCDO has committed to supporting another 40 schools in the region in 2022.
Our work in Uganda
A new school in Palabek
The Chaloner Children’s Charity is also supporting the education of children in the Palabek refugee settlement in northern Uganda. A new school call The Progessive School has been constructed in the camp and we are now working on a second school called The Canaan School, to replace the existing temporary classroom structures with permanent structures. To date, CCCC has built eight new permanent classrooms, however, there continues to be severe overcrowding at this school. Approximately 4,000 children are registered at the two schools.
The school building continues
In August, CCCC committed to constructing another new classroom block at the Canaan School. The project consists of two new classrooms and a headteacher’s office. Construction started at the end of October and should be completed within the next three to four months. This addition will reduce the number of children in a classroom, which in the past has been as high as 300 children. The headteacher’s office will now make it much easier to find her and will also be a space where she can meet with the other teachers. Classroom sizes are now approximately 150 children, and the plan is to get that down to 100.
In 2021, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) funded sports programs in the refugee camp. Both CCCC’s schools are beneficiaries of the program and the schools are supported with sports materials for volleyball, football, and netball. Daily sessions are held by community sports coaches and the participation success has meant that more children are in school and attending class.
Schools were closed again in the summer as the Covid Delta variant swept through Uganda and they still remain closed. Schools are scheduled to open in January 2022 which coincides with the start of the academic year. Vaccines are now getting through, and vaccine campaigns are widespread.
The government has mandated that all teachers have to be vaccinated for a school to qualify to reopen. Our NGO partner is working hard to achieve this. When CCCC’s schools reopen, the short-term plan is to have two different groups of learners a day, a morning and afternoon session. At the moment teachers are doing small group teaching sessions while working on a ‘back to school’ campaign. A particular focus has been put on girls to ensure they return to schools as the rate of child marriage and teenage pregnancy has increased significantly as a result of school closure.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) an international government-funded organisation has been supporting CCCC’s schools with funding for learning materials and teachers’ salaries. At the end of the year teacher contracts end, and CCCC’s schools are trying to get registered as government schools which would mean that a portion of the teachers’ salaries would get paid by the government. ECW has agreed to extend funding for another six months while waiting to hear back from the education ministry. ECW has allocated $5.5m to Uganda for the upcoming year and CCCC’s schools will definitely get funding. Additionally, ECW is also paying for the construction of teacher housing on campus. Our NGO partner on the ground is also piloting a project, which focuses on creating income streams for schools to meet these ongoing costs.
Thank you! Because of you and the support of donors like you, these projects are changing lives for kids and their families. Your donations have helped thousands of children access education because every child deserves an education.