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Nuns promoting holistic education at Kikyusa schools in Uganda

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Monica and Sr. Imelda received promotions to head teachers upon receiving education degrees through ASEC’s Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program.

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Quality education, community support and strong leadership results in a thriving student body led by Srs. Monica and Imelda.

The Kikyusa schools, run by the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross (MHC), have a reputation for excellence that brings in students from all over the African continent. 

Sr. Monica Auma and Sr. Imelda Namyanzi received promotions to head teachers upon receiving education degrees through ASEC’s Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program.

Sr. Monica is Head Teacher of Kikyusa Primary School. She used skills she learned in HESA to raise funds for a school kitchen. She has also implemented a small farm on the property where students learn how to cultivate food. 

As Head Teacher of Kikyusa Secondary, Sr. Imelda introduced an extracurricular program so students can develop holistically through dance, singing and sports. At a HESA alumnae workshop, she learned how to make soap and shared this valuable skill with her students. Now the school sells the soap to the community as a fundraising activity.

The Sisters have built trust in the local community, resulting in an increase in the school’s enrollment. The Sisters instill the values of faith, love and hope in every student they encounter.

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The Kikyusa schools, run by the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross (MHC), have a reputation for excellence that brings in students from all over the African continent. 

Sr. Monica Auma and Sr. Imelda Namyanzi received promotions to head teachers upon receiving education degrees through ASEC’s Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program.

Sr. Monica is Head Teacher of Kikyusa Primary School which serves over 350 students, ages 6-13 years, with nearly 40% of students boarding there. The Primary School aims to develop the child holistically. There is an adult assigned to each hostel that stays in the home each night with the children.

The school board members attest that Sr. Monica has been very creative in her ability to raise funds and improve the school. She used skills she learned in HESA to raise funds for a school kitchen. She has also implemented a small farm on the property where students learn how to cultivate food.

Curriculum for this project was developed through collaboration with local community members, after the school conducted a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analysis and determined this was a gap in the students’ instruction. 

Students come from all over the continent including South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.  All of the children have parents but their parents have learned of the schools impressive curriculum and opportunities, so they send them to the school.  Since the administration is well educated and are religious, the community trusts that the school will take good care of their children. Sr. Monica explained that she made connections in the HESA program with Sisters in other countries and areas. Through these connections, parents have heard of the school and sent their children to attend. Sr. Monica feels that HESA has widened her ability to network and has built her administration skills. The number of students has grown through hard work and the many skills she acquired.  Sr. Monica feels that the first thing you need to do is make sure you have good teachers, who do their work and promote the holistic growth of each child. 

As Head Teacher of Kikyusa Secondary, Sr. Imelda introduced an extracurricular program so students can develop holistically through dance, singing and sports. At a HESA alumnae workshop, she learned how to make soap and shared this valuable skill with her students. Now the school sells the soap to the community as a fundraising activity.

Sr. Imelda is the Head Teacher of the Secondary School. Students attend the Secondary School for 4 years. Sr. Imelda discussed how she feels that she has benefited greatly from the ASEC Alumnae Workshops.  Through these workshops she has learned to give back to the community and to help the community in trusting her and the school. Originally there were not many students that attended the school from the local community but with increase in services, more have begun to send their children to the school.  Some of the children from the Primary School stay and attend the Secondary School but the majority will transfer elsewhere to get more experience in a variety of settings. The school partners with local senior Form V and VI schools, as well as a local vocational school, to ensure that their students continue their education.  They keep in touch with their graduates to ensure their success.  

Sr. Imelda explained that she stays in contact with Sisters from her HESA cohort and they exchange ideas and offer each other assistance as necessary.  Sr. Imelda worked on completing resource mobilization in the school and converted the bush lands beside the school into a garden, where the students learn additional skills.  Sr. Imelda was taught at Reflective Learning to make soap and has implemented this skill at the school. She had to try 3 times until the soap was successful and then she taught this skill to the children.  Now, the children sell their soap to the community and the local health centers which raises funds for the school. 

Sr. Imelda said that she introduced an extracurricular (drama, singing, sports ie volleyball, football, netball) program to the schools in 2018 to help the children develop holistically.  This was directly related to the feedback she received from Sr. Gail Cabral at Marywood University while taking her online courses. The children attend school from 8-5pm, previously this entire time was spent on their studies.  Sr. Gail advised that children need time to do what they love, to enjoy what they learn and to spend time “playing.” As such, Sr. Imelda advocated for extracurricular programs. She encountered a great deal of resistance but by producing evidence and advocating for her students she won the opportunity to provide these services, which have provided a great deal of attraction for parents to send their children to the school.  The students now participate in the program from 4-5pm each evening. The students in the dance / singing program even won an award in the diocese this year for their performances. Sr. Imelda has found that implementing her child development knowledge has benefitted the quality of education at the primary and secondary schools. The team then watched a performance by the children in these groups. 

The Sisters gave a speech thanking ASEC and the team for visiting their ministry.  Sr. Monica said, “I would like to truly thank you for kindly sponsoring the Sisters in Africa and us in particular.  We truly appreciate your continued support render to us. You did not stop only on the online thing but furthered to the onsite study program, as if that was not enough you encourage and fund different workshops for alumnae where we are enriched with many skills.  Today I have the pleasure to tell you that the liquid soap we use at the school is made by our student, I also move out to families whenever I have time and involve in their family affairs, especially in regard to educating their children. I have settled some of these families back to normal.  I attribute such confidence, skills and contribution to ASEC programs that empower us each year. The HESA programs have exposed us to knowledge. HESA has contributed a lot to my apostolate in the way that I am able to teach, to lead, to counsel and to mother many because of the education we acquired.  The exposure and opportunities like meeting people and hearing from many has a way it builds confidence and also changes the way we see and perceive things, hence enabling us to operate in apostolate with different kinds of people. Even right after my bachelors when I was posted to a school as an administrator I felt I had the capacity to do it, though not without challenges.”  It was announced that Sr. Monica received 1st Class Honors at CUEA.  

The administration representatives of the school told the team that the Sisters have demonstrated increased commitment and determination since completing HESA.  They have impressed the community and increased the trust the community has in school. This has resulted in an increase in school enrollment, which also means the school will soon need to expand.  This is especially true in the girls hostel which has taken over one of the health centers buildings this last year due to lack of space. The Sisters have assisted the school in living up to their performance core values of faith, love and hope, instilling and increased sense of morality and spirituality in the community. 

The Sisters have built trust in the local community, resulting in an increase in the school’s enrollment. The Sisters instill the values of faith, love and hope in every student they encounter.

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Profiled in article
HESA Alumna - Uganda  


Profiled in article
HESA Alumna - Uganda  

Tara Lopatofsky, Ph.D., CCLS


Author
Research and HESA Evaluations Manager  

Amy Fedele


Editor
Media and Communications Manager  

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