Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Support for the Humanist Academy in 2009

Since Uganda Humanist Schools Trust started operating at the beginning of the year we have raised over £25,000 to help the schools in Uganda. Our main aim this year has been to help the Humanist Academy, which is the newest school and has the greatest need of help.
The money raised from supporters has provided 32 four-year scholarships, which were all allocated to the Humanist Academy. In the first part of the year we also received 25 one-year scholarships, 10 of which were allocated to the Humanist Academy. The remaining 25 were split between the Isaac Newton and Mustard Seed Schools, both of which received additional support from other Humanist organisations.

Scholarship money has allowed the Humanist Academy to recruit 42 bright but needy children who would not otherwise be in school. General donations have made it possible to help the school and the children in a number of other ways:
£800 towards the salaries of science teachers
£1000 for science textbooks
£800 for science equipment
£2000 for improvements to the access road to the school
£1500 for textbooks in arts subjects
£240 toward incidental costs

In total we have transferred well over £13,000 to the Humanist Academy in the period April to September 2009 and, as a result, the school is showing real progress. (We have also bought books, science equipment and provided scholarships to the other two schools.)

In November we are running the first International Friendship Week involving the Humanist Academy and Isaac Newton School. This will involve running educational and fun activities with the students and staff of the schools. We hope to repeat this with all three schools in early July 2010 and hope that some of our supporters will consider joining us to help out. We have posted information on our website:

We welcome your ideas on fundraising, grant making or any other matters which you think might be helpful. In a recent email Deo Ssekitooleko of the Humanist Academy asked me to convey the following message to donors:

Thank you very much for helping our poor, needy and orphaned children. Without your support many would not have been able to be at school. We are requesting you to help these poor children again the coming year. With your support you empower these young humans to have hope and look forward to a respectable dignified life in the future.”

We are using email and this blog to communicate with supporters in order to minimise costs but please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like us to send you printouts of the attachments. We do hope you will continue providing support to the schools, which is very much appreciated.

Steve Hurd
Chairperson, UHST

Please note that every pound that is donated to the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust goes to the schools in Uganda for educational purposes. Any administrative costs are paid personally by Trustees, including the costs of visits to the schools in Uganda.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Humanist Schools' Electricity Power Project: initial success

The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (UHST) has worked with Peter Kisirinya, Chair of the Uganda Humanist Schools Association (UHSA), to prepare a plan to provide the three Humanist schools in Uganda with electrical power supplies.

While clean water for drinking and washing is undoubtedly the top priority for all schools, the provision of electrical power is also important:

  1. It will allow the schools to use audio-visual aids to enhance the educational experience of children.
  2. The schools will be able to use laptop computers to aid teaching and learning. One school already has a data projector and electricity will allow PowerPoint slides to be used to improve the quality of teachers' presentations.
  3. The Humanist Schools have a strong commitment to science education and electricity will allow the use of a wider range of science equipment to facilitate investigative styles of learning in laboratory classes.
  4. Night lighting is essential for site security and to provide safe boarding facilities at the schools, especially for orphan girls.
  5. Electric lights will enable the schools to run evening activities involving members of the local community e.g. humanist friendship groups, classes on bee keeping, animal husbandry, and to host community meetings.
  6. Power will facilitate Camp Quest activities funded by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), using a grant from the Dutch Humanists, where teachers and students from all 3 schools come together with members of the local community, at each school in turn, for shared activities (including the discussion of Humanist values). These are residential activities and at present the host school has to hire a generator, which comes at considerable cost.

In an effort to kick start the Power Project an application for funds was submitted to Humanist Action for Human Rights (HAMU) which is run by the Norwegian Humanist Association. After careful consideration and discussion, a HAMU grant of 5 million Ugandan shillings ($2,500) was awarded to the Mustard Seed School, in Kamule, Busoga, to fit out the school with lights and sockets and connect to the nearest mains electricity supply. This will be the first phase of an Electricity Power Project and represents a great initial success for the Uganda Humanist Schools Association, established in October 2008 to promote cooperation among the Humanist Schools in Uganda.

UHST is keen to help the remaining schools to raise the funds they need for electricity. The Humanist Academy and Isaac Newton High School are both some distance from the main power lines. Mains solutions for each school will therefore cost between $7,000 and $10,000. Interim solutions using solar power have lower initial setup costs of around $5,000. The advantage of solar is that there are no ongoing running costs, apart from routine maintenance. The possible drawback is that solar panels are vulnerable to theft.

If you would like to make a contribution towards providing much needed electicity supplies to the Humanist Academy and the Isaac Newton High School then please contact me at