Established in 2011 in the Kanungu district in Western Uganda, the Mama Barbara nursery school offers education services to young, local children. The school has received selective, financial support from Barbara Koestler from the Fontes founder family and it also carries her name. Her past contributions have enabled the school to purchase student uniforms as well as other scholastic material. Notwithstanding her involvement, it is the parents within the community who have initiated the school and who run and maintain it on a daily basis.
In its beginning, the school was operating on a rather small scale and had few students only. Over the years, however, the numbers increased substantially. This led to problems with the little space available and the school suddenly needed more than the two existing classrooms. Moreover, the parents in the community requested for a third class for the mature toddlers (top class) in addition to the ones already offered. Up until that point, the school had only one building with two classrooms, a play room and an office for the teachers. The building, which consisted of a wattle and daub structure, was old and the roof leaked. To make matters worse, in 2014, one side of the building partially collapsed.
Students of the nursery school sharing a cup of porridge with their teachers.
Given the situation, a local, community-based organization (CBO) in charge of the management of all three nursery schools in the Kanungu district requested funding for a new building with more space and firm brick walls from Fontes Foundation. Generously, Barbara donated the amount required so that the planning of a school building with three classrooms as well as an office for the teachers could begin.
Construction, which was taken up in mid-March, has been finalized by late September and the building has already been in use since then. Fontes Foundation is happy to report that the construction was highly successful not only due to the financial and technical advice provided but also thanks to the good collaboration with the community. The parents as well as the CBO have worked hard for the project’s success by providing manpower, contributing to the transport of the materials, supervising the entire process as well as for submitting the ac- countability of the project’s funds. Owing to its solid way of construction, Fontes expects the new building to be of great use for numerous years to come.
Eventually the building of the Valentine Nursery School in Kikondeka is finished. It consists of two classrooms, both of them are sufficiently equipped with benches and tables. Furthermore, there is an office and a storage room. A separate building contains three latrines for girls, boys and teachers respectively. Yet, some minor work is still to be done.
Recently, the enrollment in Valentine Nursery has reached 86 pupils. Fontes Foundation is happy to be able to provide such a considerable number of pupils with proper education facilities. The building and the latrine was funded by Balder Foundation, Norway.
Through the donation from Balder Foundation in Norway, it was possible to provide Valentine Nursery School Kikondeka, in Kanungu District, with a new classroom building. The nursery school joined the Community Based Organisation (CBO) in April 2009, and was until now teaching in a borrowed local house. The new building will have two classrooms, an office and a store, plus a latrine. Construction is supervised and managed by the Kanungu Nurseries CBO, and parents are actively contributing with labour and providing lunch for workers.
With a generous contribution from Norsonic Brechbühl AG, a Swiss company, the construction of the classroom building for Aunt Lucy Nursery School Bushura in Kanungu could be continued. A first step, installing doors and windows, was already completed in April 2010, and the next activities will be the plastering of the walls and flooring of the remaining rooms. The nursery school still uses the church nearby and a temporary building to have enough classrooms for the 121 students between two and six years.
The new nursery school that entered the CBO in April 2009 is the least advanced in terms of infrastructure and material. Their main request is a classroom building with latrines, and the parents are already working on arranging the necessary land. However, the nursery school project is already engaged with construction works in the two other nursery schools Mama Barbara’s Nursery and Aunt Lucy Nursery School where classrooms and latrines are being constructed. It was still possible to sponsor all students from the new nursery school with uniforms, an important incentive for parents to send students to school.
In the constitution governing the community based organisation (CBO) that is currently managing the support to three nursery schools in Kanungu, it is stipulated that the members of the executive committee sit for two years. Since the two years have already passed, and it was necessary to integrate members from the newly accepted nursery school (Valentine’s Nursery School Kikondeka), elections took place in August 2009. The chairman remains the same, whereas the secretary, treasurer and vice chairman were changed. All new members received training in basic accounting, budget making, recording and reporting.
Through a number of donors, Fontes Foundation sponsored uniforms for all children at Mama Barbara and Auntie Lucy’s Nursery schools in Kanungu. The uniforms were ready for use in June 2009. The two schools currently have more than 200 children. Uniforms are important to motivate parents to send their children to nursery school, and they make the nursery schools more attractive. Children from 2 to 6 years go to nursery school every day during school terms from 8am to 12am, and during these four hours they have some education classes in basic English, reading and writing, mathematics and other basic knowledge such as hygiene. In addition, there is time for playing and a snack break. Most pre-school children in rural Uganda are left with siblings or alone while the parents work in the fields. Students that go to nursery are therefore privileged, because they get attention and new knowledge. In addition, they do much better once they enter primary school.
Since 2008, Fontes Foundation has supported the education of two teachers attached to the nursery schools at a local college. One of them is particularly interested in music, and fabricated his own guitar to play with the children. After a visit to the nursery schools in April 2009, Barbara Koestler, also a music teacher, decided to sponsor the nursery school project with a real acoustic guitar. This has improved the music teaching in the nursery schools considerably, and both teachers and students enjoy the guitar.
In April 2009, a new nursery school was accepted into the community based organisation (CBO) that is currently running the Fontes Foundation nursery projects in Kanungu. After an application process including a health inspection, the new nursery school was admitted. The school is in the same sub-county as the other two nursery schools that Fontes Foundation is currently supporting, and already has about 100 children. However, it desperately lacks proper classroom facilities and latrines.