Greetings from Bombo! Yesterday I was able to buy an internet router for the school, though with a small capacity, but can provide some minimal solution to the communication challenges and liaising with the commission.
We are stabling in our internal operation with students getting integrated with the school environment after close to two years of lockdown. We managed to replace the teachers who left and new ones seem to be getting compatible to the school too. Having gone through the first month, we paid the first salary of the term. This was both an advantage to the teachers, but also made another four to take decision to leave and go back to their activities they were engaged in during lockdown. The instability in staff is a countrywide challenge and is not so far a big worry to us at the moment because we already have whoever we need to do the teaching.
Our new nurses are of help to the existing health conditions which range from flue, cough, fevers and others with chronicle sicknesses like asthma, ulcers among others. They are young nurses and need a lot of courage and guidance in what they do. Treatment, in terms of drugs still remain and expensive area in school and takes a lot of what we receive.
Since we started, we have had several challenges that have kept us so unstable in operation and need a lot of decisions to take. I already shared some with Irene. The biggest are the numbers of students who have reported in small bits up to last weekend. At the moment we have a bigger number of students who had dropped out of school some years back, reporting back for studies. Some come with friends because their schools were either closed or can no longer afford to pay school fees. We always guide on S.5 entry for students who sit S.4 and we decide how many we continue with in S.5 and those to be promoted to the next classes. Now that we did not have access to students, the commission pronounced automatic promotion for all students. This has raised our numbers abnormally to 1728 at the moment and we need to take decisions on how to eliminate some inevitably.
To achieve reducing numbers, we tried last week to send back 30 students in S.6 who were not part of us previously but we received a lot of public criticism for sending away helpless students without a coordinated order with their parents/guardians, despite the fact that they reported without a negotiated order with the school. To harmonize this, we have prepared engagement meetings with parents to address to them our stand, challenges and capacity starting this Sunday as follows:
S.4 and S.6 Sunday 20th February
S.2 and S.3 Saturday 26th February
S.1 and S.5 Sunday 27th February.
At the moment, we partitioned the dining hall which was under construction with burnt clay bricks making half walls, eucalyptus poles for roof mainly from our swamp and cheapest but not very durable iron sheets to have classes, such that some classes were turned into temporary dormitories.
Derrick accepted to make new stoves. We mobilized the materials, he provided the ones we could not find and will be paid 7,500,000 next term for them. The remaining bricks were used to put up 5 small single rooms near the boys toilets intended to accommodate the cooks and security people.
As earlier communicated, the sponsors of the 100 girls committed themselves to helping us with additional construction of 10 rooms on top of the girls’ dormitory. Our obligation is to provide tools used in building, water, managing inflow and outflow of workers so that they do not work during times when the students are around their wing and after construction putting electric installation. Materials and labour will be paid by them. Work is ongoing and the progress is very good. Our other obligation is to clear our arrears which accumulated from 2019. They used sand and cement bricks which may not require plastering before students use the rooms. This is part of the implementation plan to space students on double beds as required by the commission.
We have tried to provide uniforms to students, but still challenged with the cost which is high. A uniform of skirt/trouser, shirt, sweater, tie, t.shirt costs 175,000. A number of desks got spoilt during lockdown and we are making phased repairs though we need to replace a number of them too. Our generator was down but it has been repaired and working again. Power bills are in manageable normal amount since with Henry’s continued transfers during lockdown, we have been paying them.
Most teachers kept their promise of not demanding salary for the time they did not work, provided they received what they asked for in October and we are grateful Irene worked on it and we are in harmony. With the transfer from Henry, we ably kept a few office staff and security people paid during lockdown. This has helped us to pay one month of January salary to everyone and we started saving for this month soon ending.
Food prices are currently high but with the support from Irene which helps us to add local income; we can manage to have regular meals. Most chemicals in the laboratory got expired and we have a big shortage of what to use during teaching. We are running a completely new curriculum used in S.1 and 2 totally different from other classes and requires a lot of training for teachers and totally new books each costing an average of 40,000 for the 15 subjects in S.1 and 15 in S.2 for at least half the students in each class together with teachers.
The only challenge that has come in unexpectedly is the registration of candidates for this year’s examinations that has started with immediate effect, but we have been given time up to May 30th as the deadline, beyond which a fine of 50% charged. Each S.4 candidate takes a basic fee of 164,000 but a total of 205,000 and 168,000 but a total of 215,000 for S.6. S.6. After we cut off some, they are 138 in S.6 and before cut off S.4 are 330.
We seek for your opinion too regarding the numbers. At the moment when the commission is not much on spacing, the biggest additional costs are food, desks and beds if we are to keep them for a term. Some teachers propose we leave them up to the end of term then we advise them not to report next term, others propose we send them now and yet others propose we leave them to continue.
We are always joyful and grateful for all the support you continue to give us. May God bless you so much.
We ask that because this message has a lot that is contrally to the standards of the commission, we may not upload it for public reading on internet, but may be shared to the stakeholders you may choose to.
Waiting to receive you dear Mr. Heinrich and the team next week. God bless you so much.
Yours in Christ,