Questions from pupils
about living conditions in Ugando to a teacher of the Dunant-Grundschule who visited a school in Bongole
Are the people of Uganda friendly?
Yes, very much so. Every place you are invited to join their meals although people hardly have anything to eat. They are open- minded and talk to you even if they can’t speak English. They try it with their hands and feet.
Which religion do most of the children belong to?
Most of them are Christians.
Are there any churches in Uganda?
Yes, in the cities, in Bongole they worship in the priest’s house or in front of it. This is an ordinary residential building, no church. Mostly they hold their service outdoors (outside).
What do people cook there?
Sometimes they fix „MATOKE” (cooking bananas). Those bananas are green on the outside and taste similar to potatoes. You can eat them in pieces or mashed. Very often they eat “POSHO” (cooked cornmeal mush). It doesn’t have any taste by itself, but the Africans love it. Sometimes they make “KASSAVA”. That’s a root which you can see in one of my pictures. Besides that they always seem to eat beans.
What do men and women do all day?
The men are mostly looking for work which isn’t easy. They ride „boda-bodas” which are motorbike- taxis or “Matatus” which are mini-buses or they try to find other jobs to earn money. The women and the children do all the work in the fields and in the house.
In some pictures you see people with big knives. Where do they get them?
You can buy those big knives called machetes at any market. They cost about 5.000 UGS (Ugandan Shillings) which equals about 1,50 €, a lot of money for an Ugandan family. As the knives are very important for the family’s survival, they save up money for buying a knife.
How far is it to the next watering place (hole)?
It is not far from the school. Charles only needs to walk 45 minutes.
How many water pumps do they have?
Only one, close to the school financed by “Kindern eine Chance”.
How do they start a fire?
That’s a very good question which I unfortunately missed to ask.
Why do the girls also have short hair?
It is much easier to take care of short hair. Short hair can much easier be taken care of. As the children only have cold water and hard soap for washing themselves including their hair, they have a hard time rinsing their hair.
How satisfied are the children with their homes?
The children are just as happy as you are. They don’t know it any other way. Many children are much keener than German children and just love learning. They know that not all children have a chance to go to school.
How many rain butts do you find there?
That varies a lot. Mostly there aren’t enough! So people steal water from other people’s rain butts because they don’t have enough water. I’ve even seen children trying to get water out of a puddle at the sides of the roads with plastic bottles. People are very short of water!
Are there any problems concerning the sanitation?
Yes, as there is hardly any water. I didn’t see a toilet at Charles’. I suppose he just goes to the meadow which is the meadow where they also grow the vegetables. That isn’t very hygienic. To wash hands without water also is very difficult.
It also is almost impossible to keep the house free of sand and the sandworms which live in the sand. People sweep their houses every day, but many children have got sandworms. Those worms lay their eggs into the skin of human beings and they subsist on human blood. That isn’t only disgusting, but it also takes a lot of energy from the people.
Do the children know anything about farming and livestock breeding?
The children learn from their mothers or grandmothers and also from their older brothers and sisters. That is very important because lateron they also will have to live on that. Unfortunately there are many orphans in Uganda because many people die of AIDS.”Kindern eine Chance” has therefore started a farm to teach those children farming and livestock breeding.
How many districts are there in Bongole?
Bongole isn’t a big city like Berlin. There are no districts.
Do the parents have to pay school fees?
If the parents have enough money, they pay a little. Mostly they haven’t enough to pay for everything. The main thing is that the parents take schooling seriously and do send their children to school. This can be achieved by demanding some school fees.
Can you tell us something about the teachers’ work?
It is difficult to judge colleagues. I don’t know very much about the Ugandan culture and thus can’t say what the children need! But I’ve seen differences between the schools of “Kindern eine Chance” and others. Usually lessons in Uganda are like this: the teacher says something and the whole class repeats it as a chorus. The teacher writes questions and answers on the board, the children copy them in their exercise books and learn them by heart! The schools of “Kindern eine Chance” often offer in-house training for the teachers so they can learn different teaching techniques. Sometimes they have round tables or discussions in their schools. I have also seen teamwork. Its obvious that teachers of “Kindern eine Chance” have a different way of teaching than the others.
How many classrooms are there?
One for each class.
How many schools are there in Bongole?
In Bongole there are the school of “Kindern eine Chance” and one state-run school, which consists of only two small houses.
How many classrooms are there?
One for each class.
How many people live in Bongole? How many children attend this school?
I don’t know how many people live in Bongole, it’s a small village. There are 292 children attending the school in Bongole.
Where do the children get their exercise-books from?
They get them from their school.
When does school start? How many hours a day are the children at school? Are there any lessons like what we call “lesson 0” or “lesson 7” ?
The children are longer at school than you. Lessons begin at 8 o’clock, but all pupils and teachers have an assembly at 7.30 a.m. There the principal (head mistress) announces everything of importance and the children are honoured for outstanding results. Classes 1 through 3 have lessons until 12.30 p.m. (as we have), classes 4 and higher have lessons until 4 p.m.
What do the children learn? Which subjects are taught?
The children mainly learn reading, writing and arithmetic. That is quite a lot, because most people in Uganda are not able to read, write or calculate.
There are also subjects as we know them: English (which for them is like German for us), mathematics, science, history, geography, fine arts, music, sports.
Do the children get marks?
Yes, just as we do.
How many years at school do the children have?
The years 1-3 are called “Kindergarten”. The children are much younger than ours, but they are not allowed to play as much as in our “Kindergarten”. Then there will be seven years of primary school and finally four years of secondary school. If they want to finish with A-level (for being able to go to university) they have to add another two years. However lots of children leave school in primary school, because they have to earn money.
How many breaks a day are there at school?
Years 1-3 have two breaks, one of which is a longer lunch break where the children get their warm meals. After lunch the little ones go home. The older children have another two short breaks in the afternoon. That isn’t very much, is it?