Some children start as early as when being 3-4 years old in Nurse class where they mainly learn how to socialize, then they level up to Top class before starting the ”real” school in P1 (Primary 1). Some children do not start until they are much older due to illness, death of parentes or having to work at home or at the family farm. That means that the ages of students in the same class can differ 4-5 years.
All children must have school uniforms. White shirt and blue skirt or blue dress for girls, white shirt and blue trousers for boys, socks and shoes. The fabric is ordered from Kampala (capital city) and are sewn by the school’s needlework teacher.
A regular school day
5.30-7.30 am Wake up and preparing
The students clean dormitry and the school area by sweeping and mopping. Each week one class is responsible for keeping the school area nice and clean and washing the plastic food boxes after every meal. Since red dust and garbage blows in from surroundings it is always needed to clean. Wash and prepare for school.
7.30 Morning assembly
The day schoolers arrive in the school pick up truck. All kids line up class by class for announcements from teachers and to sing the Ugandan national anthem, the Swedish national anthem, the Bugandan national anthem (subnational kingdom within the middle and south parts of Uganda), The national school anthem and a song written by the founder and director dedicated to Sweden. Flags of Uganda, Buganda and Sweden are being raised.
8.00-10.00 Go to class for lessons
One lesson due one hour and they study subjects like math, science, social studies, English, religion, reading and writing and Luganda. They also have music and sports depending on the term.
All kids line up to enjoy a popular bowl of milk mixed with tea.
13.00-14.00 Assembly and lunch.
Before lining up for lunch they sing some of the morning assembly songs. For lunch they get posho (cornmeal staple in Uganda) or porridge made of maize flour and cassava flour, red beans for protein and/or mukene (a small silver fish) that is being mixed with the porridge which boosts the immunity. On Sundays the boarding students get one egg each.
16.00-17.00 Cleaning, assembly and prayers
Students clean the school area, classrooms and latrines before the last assembly of the day where the flags are taken down. Afterwards it is time for prayers. The majority of the students are Christians and some are muslims. Day schoolers are driven home by the school truck after prayers.
17.00-18.30 Bathe and free time
Time for football for the boys and netball for the girls, only boarding students. The practice and games are played on the pitch right outside the school. The older students lead and teach the younger ones. All children bathe or showers everyday. The water (not drinking water) comes from water tanks that collects rain water and/or from Masaka town. For drinking water the school has invested in a distilled water tank to provide safe and reliable water free from diseases like typhoid and cholera which is a common problem in Uganda.18.30-19.30 Dinner
The students line up class by class for porridge and beans.
20.00-22.00 Revision lessons
The upper classes, P4-P7, has revision. The day schoolers do their revisions at home. Bedtime for lower classes.
Small gathering for upper classes with the head mistress.
Some of the school differences compared to Swedish schools
Size of classes
One class can have 70-90 students.
The benches are made of plain wood supposed for two per bench but they can sit up to five students a bench.
Chalkboards and chalks
The black chalkboards are made of cement covered with special black paint. If the money is too short to afford the paint they crush charcoal and blend it with maize flour.
Way of teaching
The students repeat after teacher or read loudly from the board. When standing outside the classrooms you hear all the classes repeating after their teacher loud and clear, almost like choirs.
Chearing and praise
When someone answer correctly the class chears, clap or sing a chant to the person in favor.
The students are eager to answer questions and it shows that they want to learn and what importance it has for their future.
To lighten up a lesson and get som energy back in the class the teacher can all of a sudden make the class burst out in song and dance. ”Huvud, axlar, knä och tå” is one of the songs!
Lack of teaching material
Due to costs only the teachers have textbooks. This means that the teacher has to write and draw everything on the chalkboard for the students to write and draw in their exercise books. The learning material such as posters etc. are also written and drawed by the teachers in order to show and teach.
Imagine how fast they are in mental calculations compared to us.
Despite the lack of learning tools the teachers are really creative and use what they have in the best way possible. It does not matter if it is a poster of the whole body, the heart’s anatomi or parts of a flower, the teachers easily draw them by hand.
Some students have trouble affording pencils and exercise books but the school tries to help out as much as possible.
During the breaks there are a lot of energy, playing football with empty plastic bottles or a small stone, singing and laughing. Skipping ropes and bubbles that volounteers bring are very appreciated by the younger ones.
The day schoolers have more work and responsabilities when they come home. Collect water which can be far away, collect fire woods or buy charcoal for cooking, clean and wash dishes and clothes, look after younger siblings, look after animals etc. And not to forget, revision homework. Some do not have electricity so the homework is read by the light of a candle. One 13 year old student has to take care of his very sick mother by providing her with food and water and make sure that she is doing ok when he is not around during the day. She has no one else but him and the health care here is not at all what we have in Sweden.
So, the Swedish children are used to a very much different life than the children are here. I definately was.
I hope that this gives a somewhat better insight of how a school day in Ssenyange school looks like.