She who was last shall be firstRich Stigall
Here’s a little African educational primer for your context…
In Uganda, the educational system is based on the British tradition. There are seven primary school years, from primary one to primary seven. Many challenging factors such as lack of school fees, uniform and/or school supplies as well as family illness or food scarcity prevent a child from going to school. Education is a privilege here and not yet a universal, attainable right as we in the West deem it. With normal annual progression, primary school should last seven years. Unfortunately, many students drop out part way through and return sometimes months or even years later if at all. Therefore, it is not at all unusual to find teenagers sitting for primary exams.
At the end of primary seven, pupils sit for their first major national exams – the primary leaving examinations (PLE). Presently, PLE has four examinable subjects – English language, mathematics, science and social studies.
Now, to the story…
The year is 2009. Rwere Primary School is a run-down, rural structure surrounded by dense bush in Kabale, Uganda. Presently, the community school is struggling with low attendance and facing closure. However, Church of Uganda’s Kigezi Diocese (known and honored as the cradle of revival in East Africa) is praying to indeed “revive” the parish community. They are planning to build the Father’s House village. This envisioned village will become home and haven to one hundred orphaned children on land adjacent to the languishing school.
Indeed, fall of 2010 ushers new hope and life into the Rwere community. The vision soon takes form as ground is broken and brick by brick the Father’s House family homes are built. In anticipation of the Father’s House expansion of students, a new school block and recreational playing field are built to serve the community.
Enter, Fiona, the newly appointed Father’s House coordinator. She quickly assessed that many of the children had not attended school at all or very irregularly. Their skills and esteem were low. They were far behind—at the end of the line in both life and academically. Discerning and providential, Fiona began having after school devotions and discussions with the children in small groups. She knew that students would be learning English and be tested in it on Primary Leaving Exams—the PLEs. With that in mind, she began speaking in English to encourage the students’ mastery. This was very difficult for many. However, from the beginning, one little girl would shyly raise her hand and try especially hard. Fiona encouraged her to keep trying and also help the others. Soon, her little protégé began eagerly helping “translate” newly learned English words for the other children and in so doing, was learning the most. These afternoon small groups translated into improving school work for all. The Father’s House children were catching up academically—they were no longer the last in line!
Fast forward four short years. Fall 2014, Rwere Primary School is now boasting over 550 thriving students in attendance! Primary 7 students sat for their PLEs (Primary Leaving Exams). National scores were published in December. For the first time in its history, Rwere Primary School was celebrated with a student who achieved FIRST CLASS HONORS!
A once shy, double orphaned, lost, left behind, last in line, little girl steps forward…
12 year old Rhona, from the Father’s House takes the honor. She who was last is now FIRST!
Bishop George joins the celebration and is honoring Rhona’s achievement by pledging to serve as her personal “father advocate” in assuring her placement in the very finest secondary school in Uganda!*
Congratulations to Rhona, for your well deserved First Class Honors! You are a heroic inspiration to all those who follow and will emulate you at the Father’s House!
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16
*If you would like to explore investing in Secondary School Education sponsorship for students of the Father’s Houses please contact: Marsha@goproject.org