Annabelle Chauncy

Annabelle Chauncy, Founding Director and CEO

School for Life Foundation

 

Dear Carly

I’m so grateful to be a part of your book. Thanks for the opportunity.

School for Life Foundation operates in rural Uganda and delivers quality education and ancillary services in a holistic way that positively impacts entire communities.

School for Life has built 2 schools in the Mpigi district and its services include primary, and vocational education, as well as clean water, health care, nutritious meals, vocational and technical skills training, as well as sustainable, cost mitigating projects such as animal husbandry programs, solar electricity and bio-gas digesters. School for Life recently built a 16 classroom secondary school and the first students will graduate primary and start there in January 2018.

School for Life was founded on the joint principles of capacity development and long term sustainability. We do this by mobilising local people into education, employment and skills training, and empowering them to help themselves. Across our two campuses, we have 560 students attending school from pre-school to Primary 7.

In July 2017, we will begin construction of our third school (another primary), and over the next 5 years, will bring enrolment up to 1600 students. School for Life has worked hand in hand with the local people since it’s inception in 2008.

We provide more than 120 Ugandans with jobs as teachers, counsellors, nurses, cooks, builders, tailors, agriculturalists, construction workers, maintenance and security.

Parents, elders, all levels of Government, the Ministry of Education and teachers have been involved in the development of the business plan and School for Life has spent much time working in consultation to ensure that the schools listen to and utilise local guidance to shape the projects delivered. Community members have come together to name both schools, parents are actively engaged in their children’s studies and active feedback and consultation is sought each term through surveys to ensure continued input from the local community.

School for Life doesn’t just educate children – when asked to give feedback, many adults requested to be a part of literacy programs as many had never finished primary studies themselves. Thus, adult literacy and financial management programs are delivered, as well as skills training. 15 local women who had never held a pen or pencil let alone a pair of scissors before, were enrolled in our pilot tailoring training.

These ladies are now employed full time with the school, making the students’ uniforms and items that are marketed and sold in Australia. They have quadrupled their incomes, been part of literacy and business studies and are considered role models for the entire community. Local farmers come in and are a part of training on gaining better yields from their land, animal husbandry practices, cash and intercropping methods.

Equally, teachers are given ongoing professional development opportunities to increase their skills and capacity. We have forged partnerships with local private schools and institutions where the teachers undertake exchange programs. Teachers are also cycled through scholarship programs whereby they are given opportunities to further train at educational institutes in Kampala. 2 teachers teach a class of 40 students to ensure students receive adequate support.

Teachers are paid above award, on time, with superannuation as well as health care entitlements. Each teacher is given accommodation on site as part of their salary package. Teachers are considered role models, and sources of inspiration for the entire community, going above and beyond in their roles to counsel on issues such as domestic and sexual abuse.

Special needs students who are hearing impaired and have Downs’ Syndrome are also enrolled in our school which helps break down the stigma attached to disabilities.

School for Life is developing a range of sustainable businesses and initiatives to help underpin the operating costs of our schools. These include provision of solar electricity, a piggery and bio-gas digesters. At our primary school, the piggery is connected to a bio-gas digester.

Waste is swept into the digester which then uses the waste to produce methane. Gas is then used to fuel the stoves that we cook from. Additional to this, at our secondary school, the toilets are connected to bio-gas digesters that convert waste into gas that fuels the bunsen burners in the science labs and stoves used for cooking.

All work undertaken by School for Life empowers local people and members of widespread communities receive benefits from our programs.

This is the most important part of international development, because without mobilising local people, our work would never survive for the long term.

Warmest wishes

Annabelle