On 24th February 2022 a special graduation ceremony was held for 38 teachers who had completed their training and received certificates in Kyaka II refugee settlement, Uganda
The ceremony was presided over by the District Education Officer who said, “This is the first time in the entire district to have an Early Childhood Development caregiver’s graduation and indeed Children on the Edge Africa is a game changer. The issue of using untrained teachers should be something of the past.”
The whole community took part in the special celebrations, which was real testament to the strong local partnerships we have built up.
The ceremony was a fantastic event, and a huge achievement for the graduate teachers who all passed despite many disruptions to their training because of the pandemic.
John has had quite a journey to get to his graduation. After fleeing from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2008, he identified a lack of education for children under 10 in his community in Kyaka II. John, who gained his O-levels in the DRC, asked members of the church he attended in the settlement to allow him to start teaching children in the church building on weekdays.
This is how the Grace Orphans ECD Centre began, back in 2010, almost nine years before Children on the Edge became involved. The school started with one class of 35 learners, three teachers and one room. John describes how, “The biggest challenge was to convince parents to bring their children to school, and even those who were willing to send their children could not afford school fees. We had no learning materials, playground or toilets, and we didn’t know how to conduct classes. In fact, [he says laughing] children of various ages were combined in one class”.
After just one month, the other teachers left and John operated the school alone. Sometimes church members came in to help, but it was not enough.
He said, “In 2014, myself and two colleagues got the chance to train as caregivers with Certificate in Community Child care with support from UNICEF and Windle, but guess what… the trained teachers left me after just two months.”
Support from Children on the Edge
In 2018 Grace Orphans ECD Centre was identified in our baseline survey of Kyaka II. By then the school still had high numbers of children attending but the classrooms were dilapidated and barely met the basic minimum standards outlined by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
With the support of Children on the Edge Africa, John was able to enrol for a Certificate in Child Care (CC) in 2020. Initially this was cut short by the coronavirus lockdown, but John continued to reach out to the children in his community by delivering our home learning packages and parent’s guides.
In 2021 work started to replace the dilapidated school building as part of our construction programme in partnership with HYT Uganda. Grace Orphans ECD Centre now has two classrooms built with environmentally friendly local materials and working latrines. At the end of the year John was finally able to sit the Certificate of Child Care exam, which he passed.