Three Areas of Focus

The focus of the work of the past week has been on three main areas: 1. Educate! community service clubs and the leadership and social entrepreneurship institute; 2. Developing our student selection process; and 3. Creating the preliminary (and this is still in the very early stages) plan to incorporate social entrepreneurship training into the curriculum of the Ugandan school system.

Community service clubs/leadership institute: We are working with a great pilot school in Mbale (eastern Uganda) called Mt. Masaba HS.  Our main contact at Mt. Masaba is Aramanzan Madanda, who was born and raised in the rural communities outside of Mbale, worked his way through school by starting a string of businesses (some more profitable, such as selling peanuts, than others, such as selling sugar cane, as he told us), became a lecturer at Makerere University, is now in the process of doing a joint research project with a university in Sweden, and is one of the founders of Mt. Masaba HS.

Madanda, four teachers, and 36 students at Mt. Masaba are developing an excellent model for an Educate! community service club, which they call ESTEAM.  This includes setting up meetings between students and community leaders to survey the challenges the community faces, developing a plan for how the students can help address those needs, then creating sustainable projects led by the students to empower the community to satisfy those needs.

The community service club will naturally lead to Educate!’s leadership and social entrepreneurship institute.  The students involved in the club will become the participants in the institute, which aims to provide training in leadership and social entrepreneurship and empower students through one-on-one mentorship to develop and expand the project ideas they have already begun to plan and implement – the institute thus acts like an incubator for the student’s projects. 

We are looking to roll out the model being developed at Mt. Masaba to additional secondary schools around the country.

 Selection Process: I am working to redo our student sponsorship application and selection criteria.  The application will then be distributed via our partner schools, community leaders, and NGO’s (still working on making more of these contacts) to high potential students who are not able to afford a quality education.

Eventually, I see our student sponsorship program merging with the community service clubs and leadership institute to create a comprehensive Educate! “program.”  The program would work with students to provide them a quality education (through our sponsorship program) and training and encouragement in leadership and social entrepreneurship (through the community service clubs and institute).  The combination of education, leadership, and social entrepreneurship, we believe, is a powerful tool to help maximize the positive impact students have on their society, both now and in their future careers.

Social entrepreneurship curriculum: Still in it’s very early stages, I am working with Mutume Robert Sempa, a university student in his final year at Kyambogo, to develop a proposal that will attempt to incorporate the ideas of social entrepreneurship into a governmental initiative to develop and expand their current entrepreneurship curriculum.  More on this to come in later entries.

On a personal note, I spent Easter weekend on an island in the middle of the Nile with some of The Real Uganda volunteers I am living with.  The highlights were: 1. an absolutely incredible lightning storm one night, 2. waiting out the same rainstorm in a pig pen, and 3. venturing up the rapids on foot through small islands of vine covered plant life home to monkeys.  As we forged our way up the rapids, we tied ourselves together with vines in case one of us was carried away by the current… this probably wasn’t absolutely necessary, but it looked cool and definitely made me feel like Tarzan.