The Ruhanga Development School is set amongst the rolling hills of South West Uganda, about 40kms past Mbarara, on the main road to Kabale and towards Rwanda. The school is managed by the local PTA and a Ugandan NGO called ‘Stand On Your Own’. It is supported by the UK charity Uganda Lodge Community Projects, (registered charity no. 1150023).
The school came into existence soon after Ann McCarthy travelled to Uganda and came back installing a gravity fed water system, with funds that she raised in the UK. This system feeds 20 taps in the villages and three local schools. The local mums from the villages, then asked Ann to help them start a nursery school; she set one up together with the local director of “Stand on Your Own” called Mr Denis Aheirwe. After raising more funds in the UK Ann and Denis set up a primary school.
Ruhanga Development Nursery & Primary School now hosts around 500 children, 200 of whom are boarders, receiving a good, heavily subsidised, private education. From early beginnings in 2008 the school has rapidly gained in popularity. Part of this popularity is that the school is probably unique in the whole of south-west Uganda in that English speaking volunteers from across the world assist in the classrooms; broadening the children’s horizons as well as offering help with the development of much sought after (and needed) English language skills. This requires ongoing funding for salaries, school breakfasts, educational materials, maintenance and upgrades. Families pay nominal school fees, but the majority of funds are raised through our ‘Child Sponsorship Scheme’, from this website Sponsor a Child. Where anyone from around the world can sponsor a child through school for £5 a month. All of the children at our school get free medical care.
Funding from other businesses goes into subsidising and paying school fees. The profits from the guest house goes into this and in some cases children pay no fees at all. Without us many would get very little or no education, but we are managing to get them all through to year 7 Primary. For the past 5 years the school has gained a 100% pass rate for the Primary leaving exams with most getting Grades 1 or 2. This puts these students in the top 10% of the country, but unfortunately many will not afford senior school. By running a support scheme which brings in some International funding we can keep our school fees very low for all the village children and enables them all to get a good education in their own area – unlike most sponsorship schemes the money doesn’t choose one child and send them away to a normal private school, where they loose touch with their village their family and never go back.