Despite the continuing downturn in the economy that has made fundraising difficult for all charities 2010 was another exciting year for The Kasiisi Project. By instituting stringent economies, cutting some initiatives and through generous donations of professional services we managed to maintain most of our programs this year at the same level as 2009. Some even expanded. The Girls Program and the Literacy Program both showed considerable growth and our Conservation Education program received a boost with a second grant from The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.
- Our programs now reach over 7000 children in 14 schools and as seen below are having a considerable impact on academic achievement.
- As always raising the unrestricted funds that cover unavoidable administrative expenses and pay for unfunded programs such as remedial tutoring, teacher training and health education is the most difficult challenge we have. Unrestricted donations were down by 50 % in 2010 compared with 2009 (see attached budget). In response we cut administrative and fundraising expenses to just 1.7 % of our budget. But these are short-term measures, which hurt both our ability to raise funds in the long run and also to make effective use of funds donated to specific programs.
- Long-term self-sustainability is the goal of every aid organization and we took several steps towards becoming more independent of foreign aid in 2010. We bought a school farm, instituted a new initiative to develop income-producing projects in the schools and moved closer to making and selling papyrus paper for locally produced sanitary pads.
- Parents showed an increased desire to support their schools by paying for construction of temporary classrooms at Kyanyawara and for wiring the library/administrative block at Kasiisi in preparation for mains power.
- In addition to the programs described below the project continued to fund salaries for extra staff, remedial teaching, and sanitary supplies for all menstruating girls.
- Monthly exam fees, which had been free to children in our schools was one of the programs that was a victim of our cuts.
In recognition of the growth of the project and the increasing number of programs we are now involved in we instituted changes to our administrative organization in the US and Uganda. Sonya Kahlenberg joined the board as Deputy Director of the Kasiisi Project and the following people generously donated their individual expertise and time and assumed day-to-day responsibility for many of our initiatives as program directors.
- Kasiisi Computer Program: Jeff Bittner
- Kasiisi Conservation Program: Sonya Kahlenberg
- Kasiisi Girls Program: Kate Bator
- Kasiisi Literacy Initiative: Barbara Stevens
- Kasiisi Project for Entrepreneurial Development (KPED): Cindy Mahr and Pam Bator
- Kasiisi Scholarship Program: Akshita Deora
Caroline Riss has been hired for 2010 as interim Field Director of KFSSSP, our Ugandan organization while we search and train a Ugandan to take over permanently.
Click on the links below to learn more:
Scores on this year’s Primary Leaving Exam (PLE) results showed that the hard work and investment in our 5 core schools is beginning to pay off. Over 40% of the P7 class at Kasiisi Primary School achieved Grade 1 passes – an outstanding improvement.
When compared to equivalent forest edge schools Kasiisi Project schools scored a statistically significant 23% higher than their peers and 4 ranked in the top 5 schools.
In 2010, The Kasiisi Computer Project continued to strengthen and grow. We acquired an additional 78 laptops which allowed us to double the amount of students with access to the program, funded traditional computer training for our OLPC laptop teachers, welcomed The Great Primate Hand Shake back for another exciting video, and were featured in a German Documentary covering Information and Computing Technology and Open Source initiatives across East Africa. We were also lucky to have 3 new volunteers do important work supporting the OLPC deployment. Chris Mayo-Smith played a large part in introducing the computers into a new grade, designed quizzes on the school server, and continued ongoing teacher training. Nick Doiron gave students at Kasiisi an opportunity to gain a new perspective on their surroundings by integrating environmental sensors into the XO laptops and exploring and creating computerized maps. And finally, Kirsten Ayers expanded the use of the laptops in conjunction with the curriculum by creating lesson plans, training teachers, and exploring new software.
Repairs and renovations are annual events. In 2010 we repaired classrooms at Kyanyawara and in partnership with Ndali Lodge renovated derelict classrooms at Rweteera.In addition we built 3 blocks of girl-friendly latrines at Kigarama and Kiko, funded by the Kasiisi Girls Program and a new kitchen at Kyanyawara funded by the Kasiisi Porridge Project. Continuing construction on the Kasiisi dormitory complex brought the walls to roof level.
Our conservation education program grew in several directions this year.
Conservation Education Movies
Thanks to Dutch charity Nature for Kids and in collaboration with UNITE and the Jane Goodall Institute (Uganda) children in 7 Kasiisi Project and 9 Unite schools were able to watch the first conservation videos in their native language. Posters in Rutooro were donated to each school, all children received booklets about the films also in Rutooro and teachers received guides to assist them to prepare students before the film shows.
Staff Field Trips
We were the lucky recipients of a second grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, which will enable us to take teachers from 14 Kibale schools on field trips into 3 nearby National Parks in early 2011.
Conservation and Technology
Nick Doiron helped Kasiisi school students to use the OLPC computers to learn about their environment. They mapped their schools and nearby water sources and made electronic sensors that measured environmental factors. In addition they joined thousands of other people in over 80 countries in an outreach program that builds involvement in protecting water resources by conducting basic monitoring of local bodies of water for World Water Monitoring Day.
Students from Kyanyawara continued a project started last year at Kasiisi in which they used GPS units to hide and then find puzzle pieces.
School Wildlife clubs took field trips under the guidance of one of our gap year volunteers, joined in Earth Day celebrations organized by UNITE and cleaned up their villages.
In collaboration with Camp Uganda students from Kyanyawara and Rweteera Primary Schools attended camp at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center in Entebbe where, in addition to learning about their native wildlife they made fuel-efficient stoves from bricks and mud.
Kibale Forest Coalition for Conservation Education
KFCCE met for a third time in 2010 to continue to work towards an integrated approach to school based conservation education around Kibale National Park and added 3 new members, The Kasiisi Porridge Project, Camp Uganda and The Maynaro School Project.
The KFCCE logo, designed by Diane Villa of North Carolina Zoo won an American Graphic Design Award in the logos, categories and symbols class.
HEALTH AND NUTRITION
The girl’s program made some significant strides this year: We began replacing imported pads with locally produced, environmentally friendly pads made from papyrus paper. Our goal for 2011 is to phase out imported pads entirely.
Peer education programs are now active in 3 schools. Evaluations show that knowledge of sexuality and self-confidence was significantly improved in these schools and we intend to expand the program into more schools in 2011.
We continued to move towards becoming the first producers of MakaPads in western Uganda with site-visits by Moses Musaazi, developer of the pads, to our new school farm (see below) to asses the extent of our papyrus swamp. Our goal is to generate income for local women and at the same time help support our girls program. Here is a video on MakaPad production.
In collaboration with The Kibale Health and Conservation Project we continued to fund the salary of community health nurse Kabajansi Lucy who as well as supervising and providing resources for the girls program taught basic health and hygiene in 5 schools.
The first video on hand washing in Rutooro is in production. This film written, directed and filmed by Harvard undergraduate Abby Schoenberg, and Kasiisi Project scholar Koojo Mathew, is designed to target children in places where soap and running water are at a premium.
School Lunch Program
This program is funded by the Kasiisi Porridge Project.
2010 saw continuing developments in the school lunch program:
- 1200 children at Kasiisi and Kyanyawara primary schools had a mug of maize porridge for lunch every day.
- Kyanyawara Primary School received a new rain barrel for collection of clean drinking water and a permanent kitchen replaced the old wooden one.
- As the next step to ensuring that the feeding program becomes self-sustaining the project bought 20 acres of agricultural land to be developed as a school farm.
- Miriam Kanyago completed her data collection for her PhD, partially funded by the Kasiisi Project, on the use of dried banana powder as an alternative to maize as a staple for school feeding programs. We look forward to seeing her results.
Here is a recent film on the school lunch program.
With the aim of trying to make as much of our project as possible self supporting, a new initiative, KPED, was started this year with the goal of helping schools and parents think about how to generate the income they need to fund good education for their children.
A meeting of school principals in January helped us learn what kind of assistance they felt they needed. A second meeting followed in July where discussion centered on successful income generation models in other educational institutions.
The literacy program grew on several fronts. The amount of reading matter in Kasiisi Library grew by leaps and bounds this year with beautiful new books and magazines filling the shelves. Papyrus bulletin boards display student work. Reading material came from 2 main sources, a) from UK charity Book Aid International www and b) from a selection carefully chosen in the US and funded by donations from schools, private individuals and Trinitarian Church in Concord, MA.
We are lucky to have, Musinguzi Moses at Kasiisi school. A P6 social studies teacher he has proved to also be a highly skilled library/reading teacher who is guiding students and other teachers toward literate lives. With the support of the Head Teacher, he is transforming literacy instruction at the Kasiisi Primary School through reading groups for students and book groups for teachers.
In July a pilot program for mothers and grandmothers was launched. They will meet twice a month for guidance in how to build the foundations of literacy in the very young.
We hope to move to another school and create library #2 but first need funding for construction as the only available space has been condemned. Other future plans for 2011 include adult literacy classes as many of the women involved in the mothers and grandmothers program cannot read. Bookaid International are so pleased with the Kasiisi Literacy initiative that they have chosen it to be their poster project for this year’s fundraising letter.
The Kasiisi Nursery School gained walls, latrines and a roof in 2010. There is still a lot of finishing work to be done but the school is all set to open in February 2011, at the start of the new school year. Kasiisi Project scholar Kawino Jennepher, who has just completed a 3-year course in early childhood education, is returning to teach at the new pre-school, the first in the district with properly qualified teaching staff.
This year we provided tuition for 80 graduates of Kasiisi Project Schools: three in primary school, 62 in secondary school, 7 at university (2 at Medical School), and in 8 tertiary vocational training. 5 students left our program for the time being as their families were able to fund Grade 11 and 12 for them. Most exciting of all is that in 2010 we had our first University graduate. Koojo Mathew obtained a degree in Business Administration from Kampala International University. The dropout rate in 2010 was 6.5%, mainly as a result of academic and disciplinary issues. We are pleased given the challenges faced by our students that this is so low but our goal is to reduce it even further.
The project took its first small steps towards a special education program in 2010. We sponsored our first special education student at new school in Fort Portal. One of the rooms in the new nursery school will be set up to provide help to special needs children in our schools. This will be the first facility of this type in government schools in the district.
In 2010 we were very lucky to benefit from volunteers of all ages each of whom brought their own special skills.
We were lucky to have 2 great long-term graduate volunteers in 2010. Jeff Bittner was with us until May in his position of Project Field Director and was joined in January by Dean Hardy who revamped our accounting system and got the NFK environmental education program off to a good start.
For the 4th year in a row, teachers from Weston, MA were the backbone of our professional volunteers teaching alongside Ugandan colleagues, introducing new techniques and developing cross curricula projects to be shared between the 2 districts.
They helped reading programs blossom (see Literacy Program above), promoted new income generating ventures (see KPED above) and evaluated and advised on our special education initiative. In the US and UK we were the grateful recipients of donated accounting, web-development and video-production skills.
Multinational Undergraduate and Graduate Student Volunteers
Nine US, Canadian, UK and Ugandan undergraduates from Vanderbilt, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, McGill, Oxford Brookes, Kampala International University and Mityana Technical School volunteered for the project over the summer making educational movies, assisting with curriculum development, labeling and cataloguing library books, combining science and literacy with our OLPC computers, working with the girls program and on our conservation education program.
Gap Year Student Volunteers
In 2010 5 young people between high school and college from the US and UK volunteered for periods of up to 3 months. They became involved in tutoring, program evaluations, coaching soccer and netball and the wildlife clubs and helped support our project by donations of bicycles and financial support of our remedial classes.
Helping out with girl guides, painting blackboards at Rweteera, decorating the walls of Kiko with letter and number murals and accompanying Kasiisi project students on field trips kept one American family busy during their 2 week stay in our schools. Thank you Kees.
US FINANCIAL REPORT 10/09-9/10
The success of the Kasiisi Project is in no small part due to the help and support that we receive from other organisations working with us in Uganda. In particular we thank the following for their willingness to share their expertise and resources.
- The Uganda Wildlife Authority
- Wildlife Clubs of Uganda
- Makerere Unversity
- The Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development
- Tooro Botanical Gardens
- The North Carolina Zoo
- The Kibale Community Fuelwood Project
- The Kibale Health and Conservation Project
- The Jane Goodall Institute (Uganda)
- The Kibale Forest Coalition for Conservation Education
- Educate Foundation
- The Kyoima School Project
- The Kibale Chimpanzee Project
- Great Primate Handshake
The work of The Kasiisi Project could not continue without the generous support of the many people who give so generously to our programs. We cannot list them all but they know who they are and how grateful we are to them. We acknowledge the organizations below in particular for their donations.
- The James and Gloria Stewart Foundation
- The Seymour and Julia Gross Foundation
- The Dobbyn Foundation, Belmont, MA
- The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
- The African Orphan Foundation
- The Coldbrook Fund
- The Rotary Club, Waterford, Michigan
- First Parish Church, Weston, MA
- The Kasiisi Porridge Project (UK)
- The Kasiisi Project (Vanderbilt)
- The administration, staff, parents and pupils of Weston Public Schools, MA
- St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Weston, MA
- Trinitarian Church, Concord, MA
- First Parish Church, Wayland, MA
- Friends of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project
- Barefoot Books
- Weston Girl Scouts, Weston, MA
- The Newby Trust (UK)
- The Kitchen Table Charity Trust (UK)
- Nature for Kids (NL)
- One Laptop Per Child
- Barefoot Books
- Bookaid International
- Brevard Zoo
In addition we would like to especially acknowledge Kent Davenport for preparing our tax returns, Wayne Lobb for the hours he spends maintaining our website and editing videos, Jeff Bittner for the huge amount of work he does in Uganda and Ronan Donavan who produced such wonderful movie footage.