More About Mwebaza School

Mwebaza School is located between the villages of Kyengera and Mugongo in Southern Uganda. The school is located approximately 10 miles southeast of the capital city of Kampala and 27 miles north of Lake Victoria.

Through the Mwebaza Foundation, Mwebaza School has been a partner school with Niwot Elementary in Longmont, Colorado since 2008. The school serves 200 students, ranging in age from 4 to 10. Most students are of the Baganda tribe and practice Christianity, although there are a few Muslim students at the school.

Mwebaza School has six teachers. Namatovu Catherine replaced her aging mother, Bukenya Miriam,  as headmistress of the school. Bukenya Miriam started the school with Namatovu’s father. Namatovu is also one of the teachers at the school and recently gave up her title as headmistress to Teacher Ruth, in order to focus more directly on the work of the Foundation.

In addition to the 6 teachers, there is a full-time cook who prepares porridge, garden vegetables, and eggs to feed the students at lunch. School staff estimate that at least 50% of students do not get sufficient nutrition when school is not in session and school lunch is not available, noting that children often return to school thinner and listless.

A local boy is hired on a part-time basis to help care for the chickens. The keyhole gardens and fruit trees on the site are maintained with the help of parent volunteers and other community members. Drivers are employed to operate a motorcycle as a “boda-boda” taxi and the bus that doubles as a school bus and a taxi to being in income for the school.

School fees help pay teacher salaries and cover other school expenses. The school fees charged by Mwebaza School are less than those charged by other local schools. According to school staff, the annual school fees for Mwebaza School are $80-110 per year, where other primary schools in the area charge $180 per year or more. This cost includes uniforms, considered an integral part of student education throughout Africa. However, over a quarter of students are allowed to attend for free or at reduced rates. Thus, the Mwebaza Foundation implemented a scholarship program to help send the most needy students to school.

Mwebaza-Upper LevelMwebaza School consists of a solid, 4-room school building, constructed with the assistance of the Mwebaza Foundation. It also includes a second, rented, 4-room building nearby. There are a number of small outbuildings including several chicken coops for containing the egg-layer chickens purchased with the help of the Heaven’s Hope Foundation. The Bukenya family home is also part of the school compound.

The school does have sporadic electric power that is used to run a few lights and small appliances, as well as the TankPro water sterilization units that float in the rainwater collection tanks.

Illnesses such as malaria, measles, and typhoid can be found among Mwebaza students. The staff reports, however, that the number of children with chronic diarrhea has decreased since sterilized rainwater has become the source of school drinking water.

Approximately one-quarter of students have at least one parent who has died, presumably from AIDS.

Although the school has benefited greatly from recent improvements such as a new school building, gardens, chicken coops, and a rainwater collection and sterilization system, there are still needs. The school’s sanitation system is inadequate with an insufficient number of long drop latrines or more modern toilets to meet student needs.

The school administration has expressed that the most pressing need of the school is the provision of a school for older students who have graduated from the school and lack few reasonable options for furthering that education. Therefore, the Mwebaza Foundation has constructed a middle school in the nearby village of Nkugulutale.