The first month and a half of my time here was devoted to developing the ideas behind the programs. This was done by meeting with numerous individuals, schools, and other organizations with relevant knowledge and experience. It was a lot of listening, but I think it paid off. Now, I believe our program has a lot of potential and is adapted to the Ugandan context and education system.
Now, our focus is on implementing the program with the help of Mutume Robert Sempa, Educate!’s Program Director; James Hepburn, a volunteer from the UK and a classmate of mine at Amherst College, and now Lulu Feingold (who arrived today), a volunteer from Boulder, Colorado and student at CU. We are developing partnerships with secondary schools to implement each of the three aspects of the program: a social entrepreneurship club, the leadership institute, and a two year course in socially responsible leadership – see previous blog entries for a further description of each program. The majority of our partner schools are here in Kampala and the surrounding areas. Mutume has taken over developing the relationships with these schools. We also have two clusters of 5 partner schools in Hoima and Mbale. So I’ve been back and forth between Hoima and Mbale over the past two weeks to cultivate the relationships with our partner schools in each location such that they are ready to begin implementing the programs. James has been in Kampala where he has found an office, which fits our needs extremely well by providing living space for the staff and interns and a location to hold the leadership institute and the training of the mentors. (The mentors are Educate! hired and trained recent graduates of university who are placed at each of our partner schools to implement the programs. The mentors make a two year commitment according to the Teach for America model, check out previous entry for more info.) James has also begun the process of registering Educate! as an NGO in Uganda (we’re only registered in the States as of now).
At the same time as we are developing relationships with partner schools, we’re also recruiting and selecting the mentors. The mentors are recent graduates of Ugandan universities who will be placed at 5 of our partner schools (a cluster), spending one day each week at each partner school. They will primarily work with a group of approximately 25 students at each school. Their time will be split between teaching the two year course in socially responsible leadership, facilitating the social entrepreneurship club, and working to provide general support and encouragement to their group of students.
The timeline is for the rest of 2008 we are developing relationships with our partner schools, implementing the social entrepreneurship clubs and phase 1 of the leadership institute (a one day seminar for students and teachers), and recruiting, selecting, and training the mentors. Then, beginning with the school year in February 2009, the mentors will be placed at our partner schools and the two year course in socially responsible leadership will begin.
Although we are making good progress, there have of course been a few hiccups. James recently found a slightly charred chicken feather in his rolex (fried bread wrapped around fried egg, which is usually quite delicious when free of feathers); we’ve been swindled although only in minor cases, by several people we hoped we could trust; and on Lulu’s first day our taxi got stuck in the mud twice, lost once on the back roads of Kampala, and almost led a caravan of vehicles straight into a newly constructed ditch – it was quite the welcoming to Uganda!
We’re excited for Educate!’s five interns to arrive in June, and I hope to hear your comments and questions on our progress so far.