The link between Kikaaya College School (KCS) Uganda and PGS was started in October 2007 through the British Council Connecting Classrooms initiative.
So far, PGS has been building capacity at KCS along with The Nation Foundation (an NGO), to aid the sustainability of KCS as an institution (mindful and supportive of the care and inclusion KCS shows for the disadvantaged in their community) and to enable academic work to be a realistic, sustained option between our schools. This will enable staff and pupils in both schools to develop as global citizens, using guidance from The British Council’s programme for international learning. To date there have been meaningful cultural and educational exchanges between the schools through reciprocal staff visits, trips to KCS by PGS staff and pupils, classwork and classroom exchanges - aided recently by video conferencing facilities being established between the schools.
Strong relationships have been built between both staff and pupils on the foundations of the link that are mutual trust, respect and a passion for learning.
The British Council in Uganda has recognised the work that has been done, and is using KCS as a model school in the country for what can be achieved. In the UK, The Right Honourable Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development, has also recognised our work and visited PGS this term, talking to pupils and teachers involved in the link as well as taking part in a video conference with Kikaaya.
The gifts that working with Kikaaya have given PGS staff and pupils have been many and varied. On returning from the first PUG trip to KCS in July 2014, one pupil humbly and touchingly remarked, "they didn’t want anything from us, they just wanted us." A refreshing revelation for our pupils that they are valued for simply being themselves, not what they can provide or achieve.
Edie Critchley reflects on the amazing trip that she and seventeen other pupils undertook with Mrs Sands, Mr Peebles and Mrs Cross this summer.
"We spent 10 days at Kikaaya going to lessons, building key hole gardens, painting beautiful murals in the school hall, organising the library and plastering classrooms. Each project presented a different challenge for all of us, but by the end we had all found particular skills that we excelled in, from bricklaying to throwing plaster on a wall. When we weren’t working there were plenty of other activities, like playing a football and netball match against the school, learning a traditional ‘embala’ dance and preparing for the highly anticipated cultural exchange, where we sang songs and learnt the Scottish ‘gay gorden’ dance to showcase. But, of course, meeting and talking to the students at the school was a clear highlight for all of us; getting to know each student, finding out about their home lives and their lives at the school was really interesting. We were played a popular song called ‘Sconto’ repeatedly and in return attempted to teach the students some modern dance moves. By going to Kikaaya I think we all learnt that we are partners in learning. At the end of the 10-days we waved goodbye to Kikaaya and travelled to the beautiful Murchison Falls Park where we went chimp tracking and had a Safari on the game fields, where we saw elephants, giraffes and warthogs. In the afternoon we went on a boat safari where we saw plenty of hippos and even a resting crocodile. Overall the trip was amazing fun and we all had an experience we'll never forget."
In the future we look forward to developing as ‘Partners in Learning’ with Kikaaya and to returning to the school in July 2020 for our next Pupils' Uganda Group trip.