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Students' life-changing experience in Uganda

Students Eamonn Ratton, Stephanie Rogers and Kimberley Hepple

Classroom in Uganda

Three Primary Education students set off for a two-week voluntary mission to teach in a school in Ntungamo, Uganda.

Their life-changing trip was made possible thanks to the Futures Fund Opportunity Scholarship which helped them cover their travel to Uganda.

Eamonn Ratton, Stephanie Rogers and Kimberley Hepple spent two weeks teaching children ranging from three to 19 years old at Ruhanga Development School. They visited residents of the local community and helped where they could such as installing facilities for clean drinking water.

Eamonn said: “We felt we could make a difference to the lives of the people there as well as being able to learn valuable teaching strategies such as what to do when encountered with a child with English as an additional language (EAL).”

He continued: “Despite English being the official language in Uganda, there were many children at the school that could not speak it and could only speak in their local language. With the increase of children with EAL in Britain over the last 50 years or so, it is essential that I know some strategies that can aid these children in the classroom.”

Stephanie added: “The school experience gave us all a wide range of benefits and these included working with children with English as an additional language, observing/teaching subjects in very basic conditions, understanding the differences between English and Ugandan classrooms, learning different school routines, participating in local sports with teachers and children, listening to children read and witnessing and experiencing life in the local community whilst grasping an understanding of their culture and the way they work and earn money.”

For Kimberley it was the resources that they had to work with that struck her most.

She said: “One thing which struck me as I first arrived in the classroom, was the minimal amount of resources the teachers had to work with. There was no electricity and therefore no technology apart from a blackboard at the front of the classroom. Working with limited resources, we learnt that teaching EAL children involved a lot of communication between us and them.”

They all agree that this opportunity has been hugely beneficial for their future career.

Stephanie said: “I feel like this opportunity will assist me greatly in my final placement and future teaching career. I also feel this experience has made me extremely grateful for all teaching equipment we have access to in both schools and online as this was very limited, if not non-existent, in Uganda.”

Kimberley said: “This trip has given me the confidence in teaching children with EAL and because of this I am now looking into doing my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year abroad.”

Eamonn added: “As a result of teaching in Uganda, I have more of a ‘no fear’ mentality and would now welcome the opportunity to teach abroad again as it has benefitted me in so many ways.”

The three Primary students are thankful to the Futures Fund for their scholarship support.

They concluded: “A massive thank you to all the donors who contribute to the Development Trust in order for us to have this truly unbelievable and unforgettable opportunity!”

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