The latest information about the Uganda-UK Schools Linking project can be found at www.u-ukslp.org


A key priority for me is to help young people in South Northamptonshire realise the value and importance of democracy and develop a better understanding of the world around them.

Following a chance meeting with Richard Johnson, a teacher at Campion School (now retired) he and I decided to establish the Uganda-UK Schools Linking project.  He is a Trustee of The Discovery Centre based in Jinja, Uganda and we agreed to hold a Youth Conference there with both South Northants and Ugandan sixth formers.  The themes for the Conference shadowed those planned for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that was due to take place in Kampala in November 2007.

So in October 2007, 6 students, 3 teachers and I all travelled to Uganda. We met with 9 Ugandan students and 3 teachers and the first sixth form conference took place. The topics discussed ranged from The Role of Women, Fair trade, Childrens Rights, HIV and AIDS, The Enviroment, The Commonwealth and Renewable Energy. The students worked together to prepare presentations and soon formed a great bond with one another.  It was a fantastic opportunity for each student to learn from each other, realising their similarities and differences in spite of living in such different worlds.

The pilot was a huge success and since then we have established an annual trip that includes many of the secondary schools in Northamptonshire.  We have developed ways to share curriculum activities during the course of the year and shared work includes photography exhibitions, essay writing on 'a day in my life', art and jewellery making.  Many of the students are in regular contact with one another via Facebook.

As well as studying and presenting together, the students taking part in the trip have visited the Source of the Nile, Bujagali Falls hydroelectric plant and a Chimpanzee Sanctuary.  They have shared in barbeques of roasted goat and mutual entertainment with songs and dancing by firelight!  A truly life changing experience for all those who have been.

I have just recently sent out information to further schools who are making enquiries about the project, its success and the educational benefits to their own students.

The strong communication links developed between the students of Uganda and here in Northamptonshire are important for global education and development. Most important though is the opportunity for young people to meet one another and form a mutual understanding and empathy that will endure througout their lives.

Statements written by some of the students following their visits made it clear how their experiences allowed them an insight into the world around them and to value their own lives and the things in it such as siblings, parents, clothes, food and freedom of choice.

Below are quotes from some of the British and Ugandan students involved, on what they had to say about the whole experience.

Hannah (Ugandan student)

It made us know the European students and teachers were exactly like us, they reasoned the way we did and many other things.
I got to the conference it made me learn how to deal with various kinds of people and also learn how to initiate friendships with them.


Priscilla (Ugandan student)

The conference changed my way of thinking and sense that has come to my knowledge that members in UK and other developed counties do not despise us because we are of least importance but because they are green about what is happening in Africa and the bad image imposed in their minds

Janak (British student)

I learnt that there is no perfect resolution and that not everybody will always agree but that we need to learn to compromise on issues.
Learning about fair treatment and justice in society has been fascinating seeing how men and women are treated differently in two different cultures and continents
I have learnt from these discussions that I should widen my viewpoints on social, political and economical aspects.

Kirsty (British student)

Looking back on the project and my time in Uganda I can see the amazing things I have learnt. If you have visited Africa you will know that actually seeing the poverty that is blasted on the screens every red nose day or children in need actually happens and gives you an almost surreal feeling. When faced with walking through the local village and seeing children smiling and running with excitement at you just being there you can't help but smile yourself. The happiness they expereince through the littlest things has really made me re-evaluate the way I act.


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Andrea Leadsom MP

From small acorns grow mighty oaks....the Uganda - UK Schools Linking Project was set up in 2007 to give sixth formers the chance to get a broader view of the world and a greater appreciation of the value of living in a democracy. Cultivating on-going links with young people thousands of miles away on a different continent has sparked genuine friendships, a growing mutual understanding, and lots of opportunity to learn from one another.

 

 

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