KATOSI, UGANDA— RTI International recently contributed to the renovations and reopening of Katosi Primary School, an integral part of the Katosi community, nestled along the banks of Lake Victoria in Uganda.
With eight government-sponsored teachers and four community-supported teachers' assistants, the school provides Primary 1 and Primary 2 levels of the national curriculum—including math, reading, and science—to more than 460 students aged 6 to 17 years. In addition to traditional classroom learning, the school has a Sanitation Club that partners with the Katosi Women Development Trust to develop innovative latrines that help minimize waste. The school participates in Eco-School, a program that encourages students to take an active role in energy conservation and sustainable use of resources.
Katosi Primary School suffered a setback in early 2015 when a windstorm caused substantial damage to one of its buildings. The community came to the school's aid to repair the roof, but more resources were needed to make the building fully functional again. RTI learned of the damage during a tour of project sites in Uganda. RTI works with USAID on several projects in Uganda, including the ENVISION and Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity (LARA) programs, which are regular collaborators with Katosi Primary School. RTI is also the prime contractor for USAID's Governance Accountability Participation and Performance (GAPP) program, which has worked closely with the government in Mukono District, where Katosi is located.
After visiting the school in October 2015, the RTI delegation discussed what they might do to help. Wayne Holden, president and CEO of RTI, suggested reaching out to the school to ask if they would accept RTI's assistance renovating the structure. Reverend Yossamu Kintu, head teacher of Katosi Primary School, welcomed the offer and teamed up with Peter Paul Rubangakene, RTI's ENVISION project director, and Adam Silver, RTI's director of operations for the Uganda GAPP project, to plan and implement the renovation effort.
The building has become a focal point for the collaborative spirit of Katosi. Constructed with the support of parents, teachers, the community, and the Katosi Women Development Trust, the 2015 damage reunited those stakeholders for the initial repairs. The building's most recent construction effort garnered more community support, with teachers, older students, parents, and other residents lending a hand to the construction process. RTI provided funding and coordination, and Lugasa Construction Company, the original builder, returned to lead the site work.
Construction began in December 2015 and was completed in February 2016. The building received a new floor and ceiling, a movable wooden wall to create two separate classrooms, chalkboards, doors and windows, interior lighting, and fresh painting. The refreshed facility provides a more comfortable environment for the students, allowing educators and pupils to focus on their lessons.
Reverend Kintu and his fellow teachers say the entire community is thrilled with the results, and he believes the improvements could boost Katosi Primary School's academic metrics. Teacher Peter Balibonaki agreed. "It is good work," he said. "The rooms will be clean and less dusty, making it easier for the students to learn and teachers to teach."
Silver visited with Reverend Kintu near the close of the construction project and reflected on how the community, like the school, are showing signs of hope and vitality. "Maybe it was the weather, the progress on the new road to Katosi, the nice newly renovated building, or my growing familiarity with the town," Silver said, "but during that visit the future prospects for Katosi seemed to be better than I'd imagined in the past."
The Katosi Women Development Trust, Silver added, actively supports the school and is assisting with construction of two additional buildings in the school compound. When those structures are completed, Katosi Primary School will no longer have to use a temporary structure that had been serving as classrooms.
"My sense is that Katosi has a vibrant community to begin with, and the people here are very appreciative and thankful of this contribution to catalyze their efforts to support the school," Silver said.
Renovation was completed, and the Katosi Primary School main building was officially reopened on March 11, 2016.
In addition to the improvements made to Katosi Primary School's damaged facility, each Primary 1 and Primary 2 student will receive two early grade reading primers as part of the LARA program. Implemented by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology, and Sports (MoESTS), RTI and World Vision Uganda, LARA works across all levels of government and with other education stakeholders to build literacy of early primary grade learners in three local languages and English. Students at Katosi Primary School will receive a primer in Luganda and another in English. Teachers previously received guides and training to prepare for use of the new primers. Based on the thematic curriculum, the books help guide the students through daily reading and writing exercises. The early grade reading methodology and books have contributed to significant improvement in learners' reading skills.