Judith Peace Adonogo is the proprietress Brook Christian Academy, a school that offers free education to most of its' pupils. According to Ms. Adonogo, her country Uganda is challenged with offering the right education to her citizens at an affordable price. So, she decided to serve her country using her experiences from training at VSO Rwanda, British Council, USAID Early Childhood Foundations UK and many other international organisations. In this exclusive interview, she revealed her motivations and the challenges involved in running a nursery school that offers most of its' pupils free education. Read...
What inspired your running the school Brook Christian Academy? : I realised Uganda now has so many private schools and their aim is to make money at the expense of learners and the teaching is substandard. Curriculum is not followed as it's written. Basics of language are not taught, especially at the early stages. Children are forced to cram, this hinders their growth stage. There is a lot of child abuse in schools. Child neglect and the person the child is supposed to turn out to be is destroyed. 'Moral values are not taught because schools need money so they tend to pamper children yet they are not raised up rightly. Like the Bible says, train up a child in the way he should go and when he or she is of age they will not depart from it. My being a Christian and having grown in my career, I am knowledgeable, I'm exemplary. I yearned to mentor and to inspire before I expire so I saved up some little money and I started. My desire was to offer quality education at an affordable cost even for the Ugandan earning meager income.
How many of the students are on free education? : I have 20 students and 12 are on free education.
How many people do you employ to help you in the school? : I have 4 teachers and 1 care taker and 1 security guard. So I employ 6 people plus 1 person at the snack shop.
How do finance the school considering that you provide free education for most of your students? : I had saved up some money and the maintenance is done by a small snack business I started, so I employed someone to work in it, so I do supervise both projects as they are close to each other.
Do you make enough money from the snack business to pay the school staff? : I must say, that I am managing. Some times, salary delays, but I do pay even when it's a month later. This is so because, I have explained to the staff the vision, so they stand with me.
Apart from finance what other challenges do you face running Brook Christian Academy? : Other challenges are that it takes some parents time to learn that children learn best through play, that school is meant to be practical. But, they want the cram work system. So, I take time to sensitize them. I even hold seminars and workshops to take them through what we learn at school so they can carry it on at home, because learning is not only done at school. A lot happens at home. So, school and home should be on the same page to get the best out of the child.
How responsive have the parents been? : The response has been good so far considering that I have not done massive awareness. A lot is still needed.
How supportive have your family and friends been? : Financially they have not done much, except for my husband who contributed and is offering financial expertise on a part time basis.
What other plans do you have for Brook Christian Academy? : Right now, we have just nursery pupils, so my plan is to expand it to primary next year. And I'm planning to buy land for the school by the end of this year as we are still renting. When we have our own facilities, I am looking at a theater for performing arts which no school has in Uganda. We also plan to do a modern sports facility.
What advice would you give to other stakeholders in the education sector in Uganda to improve the education quality of the country? : Remodeling the training materials in tertiary institutions. Review the curriculum, set up in house training for staff to learn new concepts in Education. The Ministry of Education should constantly inspect both public and private institutions to ensure correct policy implementation. Penalties should be given to private schools that don't abide by the stipulated educational guidelines.