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