Pride and Hope: Jinja Progressive Secondary School

By Brother Stephen LaMendola

Jinja, Uganda– Today our group visited the Jinja Progressive Secondary School, founded  in 2003 by Hajj Kitezala Swaibu, a Moslem.  We arrived after an early morning rain that cleared the air and wetted down the dust.  Although a private school that admits students of all faiths, the school has a definite Moslem influence as evidenced by the many girls who wore scarves that covered their heads.  The school also had a mosque, that while still under construction, served as a place for prayer for the Moslem students.

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photo: Paula Longo

The Executive Director, as well as the entire staff, were very proud of their students who score consistently high on the government exams – an important factor that adds to the prestige of the school.  After  a tour of the school facilities by the principal, the morning session afforded many of us an opportunity  to talk to many of the faculty and students.

For me, it was a great opportunity to talk with a “practice” teacher who had returned to her alma mater to do her student teaching.  After completing her 8 weeks of “practice” teaching in her second year of university, she will return to her university studies  and complete her last 8 weeks of “practice” teaching in her final year.  A research project will complete her requirements for a teaching diploma.

During my visit, I was impressed by the teachers’ pride in their school, along with the seriousness the students demonstrated toward their studies, which compared to American standards, are very rigorous. At this school, along with the other schools we visited, we were warmly greeted and found that both teachers and students were very interested in what we do in our schools in the United States. As in the other schools that we visited,  they were amazed and surprised that we share many similar challenges, and that all is not perfect in our country.

With the exchange of e-mails, it was both our hopes and expectations that our visit would continue in the coming months  so that we can continue to better understand and appreciate each other and the work in education that is the thread that binds us together.

4 thoughts on “Pride and Hope: Jinja Progressive Secondary School

  1. It’s very interesting reading about the different school experiences the group has had so far. How does this school receive its funds? Is there any government support for private schools, and could you compare funding between public and private schools?

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading the blog and seeing the picture. It’s been about 8 years since I’ve been to East Africa. Seeing the pictures brings back fond memories. This is a wonderful experience for everyone, and especially so for our King’s students. Enjoy the rest of your stay.

  3. I appreciate the insights that the teachers from Uganda are gleaning about the United States. (We have problems, too.) Hopefully, with projects such as this one, more people will try to share information with other countries to solve these problems.

    Of special interest to me was the fact that the student teachers go back to classwork in the middle of their experience and then return to student teach for eight weeks at the end of their program. I would imagine that the interim coursework makes much more sense after they’ve been involved in an intensive teaching experience.

    Be well; best wishes for a great learning journey.

  4. Rich, there are several types of schools in Uganda. There are “UPE” (Universal Primary Education) public schools that charge no fees (though students need to pay for uniforms and exams and these schools are very full), there are “Community” public schools that charge fees, there are “nonprofit” religious schools (such as the Holy Cross parish primary and secondary schools in Jinja) that charge fees, and there are “for profit” private schools (such as SEETA outside Kampala) that charge higher fees and typically have high academic standards for admission.

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