In Celebration of ‘Education’ at St Paul’s School

We arrive in Rukungiri late on a Sunday. Here in the west of Uganda, overlooking high undulating hills with steep fluted slopes, stands St Paul’s Community Primary School.

Our first taste of St Paul’s is early on Monday morning when it sounds as if someone has switched on a PA system right outside our rented house. In fact, it is the children at St Paul’s beginning their school day with an assembly. Their songs of praise ring out from the hilltop, like an audible beacon; full of life and enthusiasm for the new week ahead. You see, education is celebrated here; it’s a privilege, something you hold on to.

Our presence is welcomed and celebrated, as we are old friends of the school and most children have known us since their Nursery days.

The following day we spend some time at the place that is close to my heart; the Nursery School. There is much to be celebrated here. A few years ago, the Ugandan Government ruled that all Primary Schools with a Nursery, should separate the younger and older children; providing an enclosed campus with outside play facilities for the younger.

As a Nursery teacher, with over 20 years’ experience, I see this as a great development, and it has been a pleasure to stand with this dedicated team of Nursery teachers, as they have grown and incorporated more and more play-based ideas into their Nursery curriculum. No longer do three, four, and five-year olds sit behind desks all day long; many activities take place outside now, taking advantage of the glorious weather whenever possible.

The day starts with the Nursery assembly. The children are delighted to find a ‘little’ Denise in one class to match me, and a ‘little’ Rosey, to match ‘big’ Rosey. These two pupils are among the five or six children chosen to lead the worship time this morning. What a joy to celebrate the beginning of a new day with such little ones; definitely with more confidence and gusto than most early years children I’ve worked with in the UK!

After assembly we watch as some classes return to their classrooms to begin working on their English, using ‘Jolly Phonics’, recently resourced online by Immaculate, the Head of the Nursery. Others come straight outside to enjoy a mixture of PE, movement, dance, and singing.

Later in the week I have the opportunity to spend some time with the staff team; sharing some ideas about teaching early science and observation. The Nursery teachers have great fun experimenting with brightly coloured magnifying glasses and magnifying “Bug pots”, in preparation for introducing the activity to the children. It is humbling to be part of this growing and learning process with the teachers, and to see the evidence of children’s work celebrated in the displays around the school.