St Michael’s is a girls’ primary school in a desperately poor area of rural Uganda 88 miles to the east of Kampala. It plays a vital role in the community and achieves excellent examination results but needs our help to thrive and develop.
The school was founded in 1962 by the Mill Hill Fathers under the leadership of Sister Mary John of the Order of the Little Sisters of St. Francis. The Headmistress and her predecessors have all belonged to the Little Sisters of St. Francis which is a Franciscan Order. The local Catholic Diocese is that of Jinja.
The school became Government-aided in 1967 which means that the day girls receive a free education until secondary school. However the funding from the Government is very limited indeed – about £1 per child per annum! This level of provision results in quite often a lack of even basic essentials and staffing issues.
Primary schooling finishes at the age of 15 with exams determining whether a child can progress to secondary level but because schooling after this level is not free to the overwhelming majority of pupils (and so has to be financed by the parents) this is where education ends for most of the children in Uganda.
St. Michael’s admits girls from throughout the country irrespective of religion, tribe, colour or political affiliation. There are about 600 girls and 12 boys, some of whom are orphans who have been given food and shelter by the school. Most are day girls but there are about 250 boarders housed in dormitories at the school.
A statistic coming out of a recent G8 summit is that Uganda’s population (if left unchecked) is set to rise from 30 million to 93 million by 2050! Educated girls in Uganda have on average 2.9 children as opposed to 6.5 children born to uneducated girls.
The commitment of the Charity is to continue to support this remarkable school where happiness, joy and love do co-exist with extreme poverty and deprivation. Education is the key for these girls to unlock the door of their potential and for them to escape the poverty cycle.