Established in 2000, St Paul’s School is a non-government primary school for children in the Rukungiri district – an area badly affected by conflict and more recently the HIV/AIDS virus. It was established by a group of friends who, inspired by their Christian faith and moved by the level of poverty among their neighbours, wanted to provide a source of hope in the form of education, for the orphans in their community.
In the early days, the school was small, rural and the facilities basic: teaching took place in four classrooms and a tin shack for the nursery children. There was no electricity and few resources, but the teachers were committed and the founders driven by faith and vision. Their motto was, and continues to be, “Godliness with hard work.”
It was around that time that CPA was invited to partner with the school, through our good friend, Ephraim Gensi. He invited CPA to fund 20 free scholarships for local orphan children – allowing them to attend school with no cost to their families or guardians. This was a big step for us, but we were confident that we could raise the funds, so we agreed.
Today, CPA is working with St Paul’s School which has recently become a beacon school in the Rukungiri District – not only in terms of academic performance, but also child welfare and social action. During our early visits to the school we became aware of the immense level of poverty in the district and felt challenged to make a difference to some of these desperately poor children. Following discussions, we were presented with the opportunity to provide a scholarship programme for 150 children (making up a quarter of the school) which we have been doing for the last 14 years. We were excited to hear at the start of 2016 that the school had come top in the District in their Primary Leavers Exams, with the highest results going to one of the scholarship children. St Paul’s continue to forge the way ahead in setting a great example for other schools in the area to become safe environments with animated and imaginative learning.
The school has a reputation for upholding and promoting child rights. Over 95% of children in Uganda are subject to some form of abuse. CPA took the decision over 8 years ago to work with the teachers and children at St Paul’s to bring about a revolutionary change in the way children are seen, nurtured and accepted in Ugandan society. This has involved the development of Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures which have been fully endorsed and welcomed by the school.
Whilst all of this has been taking place, CPA has also been helping to develop the school campus, building more classrooms, flush toilets, staff houses, installing water tanks and more recently a dedicated Nursery Centre – the old tin shack is now being used as a tuck shop!