RedEarth Education is a UK-based charity working in rural Uganda to deliver high quality training and support to teachers. The charity was founded in 2006 by three retired teachers, Lynne Pritchard, Di Cosgrove and Ronnie Katzler, after many volunteer trips to Uganda. Together, they have many decades of teaching experience and global education knowledge. Over the years there has been a lot of positive change in the teaching and learning found in the schools where Redearth has worked in the large district of Western Uganda called Masindi. There are plans to expand the work all over Uganda, and other African countries such as Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Teachers in Uganda have virtually no access to new ideas about teaching and learning, as there are very few opportunities for professional development. By supporting and training teachers, as well as providing them with the means to deliver training themselves to their colleagues, we create a cascade effect of leaning. This means that our training goes on to impact hundreds of teachers, improving the learning of thousands of children. This is a central to our aim for sustainability, as we are working to hand over all programmes to an experienced, local team of Ugandan educators within the next 2-3 years.
Our programmes have attracted funding from donors such as COMIC RELIEF, who have funded our Early Reading Programme, the WATERLOO FOUNDATION and the BRITISH and FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY who have funded our Achievement Award Programme in primary schools. Our programmes have been met with significant success. A recent, independent evaluation of RedEarth’s work stated “this is one of the most interesting and impactful education programmes I have had the privilege to evaluate” As a result, other NGOs are adapting our programmes in various African countries, including Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
Here is Lynne’s story in her own words:
“On my first visit to Uganda I lived in a village with a family and supported the village school. It’s difficult to describe the impact this had on me – overwhelming feeling that the issues the education system faced were enormous – the feeling of being de-skilled and not capable of doing anything that could be useful and later, after much reflection, deciding that this was not the case and that something could be done…hence Redearth Education was born.
My first impression of schools – hundreds of children packed into very poor classroom structures, one teacher, chalk and talk teaching, many children with no books or writing equipment so they sat and listened all day, many children seated on the floor, no furniture. BUT on the plus side – amazing kids, keenness to learn and make the best of their education, a mixture of innocence through lack of interaction with the rest of the world and a worldliness from having to cope with the numerous challenges that children in some other parts of the world cannot imagine – many orphaned, working hard in the fields before and after school, poverty, sickness, high infant mortality, poor nutrition, disease, poor living conditions etc.
I suddenly realised how important international relationships are. I vividly remember one man from the village saying to me. ‘We are so happy you are here – now other people out there know we are here, we are on the map!’ He was absolutely delighted that his village and his village school should have a visitor. Very humbling experience.
First impressions of Uganda – the red roads – the red earth and the children – children everywhere, coming out of the sugar cane, walking to school barefoot along the marram roads, 4 year olds and 15 year olds, all eager and all with such potential.
Uganda is a country (I guess like all others) with wonderful, talented, able, lively, keen children. It has proportionally the highest population of children under the age of 16 in the world. The education system cannot currently provide for the huge potential that is bubbling away BUT it cannot be allowed to be a lost cause – much can be done to improve the system, to help these great kids achieve their potential and eventually lead their country out of poverty. It may sound idealistic but it is nevertheless something to be aimed for.”
I have learned so much…from the teachers, from the children and from the rest of the community and from living and working in a developing country – I have been surprised, delighted, frustrated, angered – so many things, but not least I have learned a lot about myself!”