Coloma Uganda Primary School
On February 8th 2010 one of the dreams of the Daughters of Mary and Joseph, Africa Province, came true with the opening of Coloma Primary School in Uganda. Sr Adeodata Ahimbisibwe together with Sr Pascazia Kinkuhaire had for almost a year and a half supervised the construction of the school buildings and a community house.
The new Coloma Community consists of Sr Teresa Bateta, Sr Eileen Maher, Sr Fausta Komuhangi and Sr Mona Maher.
Coloma Convent Girls’ School is proud to be involved in fund raising efforts for the new school.
The school is a day and boarding primary school and aims to eventually cater for 1,000 children. The school site is situated about 9.5 kms from Mbarara town and about 4km from the main road. The land of the primary section which consists of 7 acres was purchased by the Daughters of Mary and Joseph in 2003 with a view to establish a primary school. Since then a plantation of 13 acres has been added as a source of food and income for the future.
In July 2019, as part of the school’s 150th Anniversary celebrations, Sister Felicé arranged for Sister Mona who is based in Uganda at Coloma Primary School to send us some updated photos for our display plus an update on the school’s progress. That update is below:-
Coloma Primary School, Uganda – 2010 to date
Coloma Primary School began in 2010 with an intake of 58 students. The school is owned and run by the Daughters of Mary and Joseph as a private boarding school. Since 2010 over 200 pupils have completed at the school and all except one has continued to secondary school. The girl who did not go is sickly and has done a skills training in machining and is now working. In general the results are very good and the progress of the school is satisfactory.
Since 2017 there are 6 Sisters working at the school – 4 in the administration, one full time teacher and one working in the library and as procurement manager. Being a boarding school and with many young children there is a need for many staff as teachers, matrons, cooks, day and night watch persons, nurse, driver, cleaners etc. In all there are 17 teachers and 33 support staff. Attached to the school there is a farm for both cattle and crop production. For this enterprise, 9 people are employed.
The school has a special care and concern for orphans and children from vulnerable homes and at the moment there are over 90 such children either receiving full or partial sponsorship depending on the family circumstances. Again our sponsors are very faithful to supporting these children but there are always more children needing assistance. It costs between Stg 2,800 and Stg 3,000 to maintain a child at Coloma for 7 years of boarding school. Were it not for the support given by sponsors, the children of the poor could never come to this school.
The school being fully private does not receive any assistance from the government at all so the school has to provide the cost of all staff salaries, food, and care of the children and maintenance of the school. The finances for these come from the school fees paid by the families of the children and from those children being sponsored by donors from overseas. Food is very expensive in Uganda and it is a struggle to make ends meet since it is the school policy to keep the fees as low as possible in order to open the school to everybody.
The school started with a minimum of buildings and since then has been trying to build up the infrastructure. So far showers, dining room, kitchen and stores, toilets and 2 staff houses have been completed, while a dormitory is currently under construction. Accommodation has been a limiting factor in the school but once the dormitory is completed, that will ease the situation. There has also been a challenge regarding water provision due to serious climatic changes. In 2017 a borehole was constructed and this has alleviated the situation for the moment. All of these areas of construction would have been impossible to achieve without the help of our friends overseas and the many funding agencies that have assisted us. For all our sponsors and donors we are truly grateful – for without them this school would still be in its infancy.
However the work of construction continues as the target number of children for the school when completed is 600 plus. To help achieve this, the top floor of the dormitory needs to be completed and that work is estimated to cost approximately Stg 30,000.
It is the policy of the school to harvest all rain water from the roofs into tanks. The dormitory being a large building it is hoped to build a large underground water tank to harvest the entire roof catchment. It is estimated this will cost in the region of $55,000. A grant has been applied for but we still await a reply.
Presently the school has 9 classes and 315 pupils. The study course is for 7 years. There is a double stream in Primary 3 and Primary 5 i.e. 8-9 year olds and 10-11 year olds. It is hoped to gradually have double streams in all the classes. Setting up a new class entails many things: desks and chairs, text books, beds, extra dining room tables and benches, equipment etc. To set up a new classroom costs approx. Stg 4, 000.
The children are encouraged to read and the school has a good library. However, books well used wear out and new books are always appearing on the market. About Stg 800 is spent yearly on this important area of school life. The library has a central place in the school and most children read a minimum of 3 books per week.
Another challenge facing the school is milling foods – maize, groundnuts and millet. This year the school has secured funding from CAFOD and has already purchased milling machines but still needs to construct a milling house of 3 rooms. This is an immediate project and will hopefully start in August/ September of this year (2019).
As the number of children increases, so too does the required number of teachers. We are in the initial stages of planning a new staff house. It will consist of 4 flatlets each containing a bedroom, sitting room bathroom and kitchen.
Compiled by Sr Mona Maher DMJ