Project Background

Pass It On Africa (PIOA) and Build Africa (BA) have partnered together to support Nyantonzi Primary School in Masindi, Uganda. BA is an NGO partner of the school and made a commitment to find the funding required in order to ensure its long-term development. PIOA agreed in September 2014 to become BA’s funding partner and will continue to partner together on this project until September 2016. PIOA have pledged to raise £66,191 for the development of Nyantonzi Primary School over the next three years.

In Uganda BA work with 50,000 girls and boys from 85 communities. Their work starts by ensuring that children have the best foundations possible to make sure that they are ready to learn when they get to school. In school BA take care that pupils learn in a supportive environment where they feel safe and protected and receive an education that prepares them for later in life.

Nyantonzi Primary School is located in Masindi District in a small village 30km from the town centre. It was founded in 1952 under the Church of Uganda Foundation. It is now a full primary school from classes P1 – P7 with 793 pupils and 11 teachers.

Nyantonzi already had permanent classrooms when BA first began working with the school in 2012, but there were still serious problems with children’s attendance and performance due to insufficient resources to accommodate the large enrolment size. The school is located in the sugarcane growing area and near to the Kinyara Sugar factory, one of the biggest sugar factories in the country. The demand for primary schools in the area is very high given the number of people who live here and are employed by the sugar factory. However, Nyantonzi is one of few schools in the area but, with insufficient infrastructure and resources, many children will drop out in favour of cutting sugarcanes as a means of helping to supplement their parent’s income. The community participation in school affairs has also been very poor and many parents do not fully appreciate the value of education.



Since 2012, BA has been working with the community and school management to improve attitudes towards education in the area, as well as build the capacity of the school to help them to lobby the local government for support and resources. These interventions have started yielding good results, with a continued increase in enrolment and attendance. However, Nyantonzi still needs support to help ensure that children in the area receive a quality education and that parents are preparing their children for education during their formative years.

Current Situation

Existing school kitchen


The increase in enrolment at Nyantonzi is a mark of its improving reputation and better attitudes towards education within the community. However, in order to ensure that the school is able to cope with demand and to avoid over-crowding in the future, additional classrooms are needed. Currently there are 793 pupils with a child to classroom ratio of 114:1. A lack of desks means that more than half of the children in each class are forced to sit on the floor.
There are 10 toilets at the school, which are not enough for the number of children and teachers. The child to toilet ratio is 79:1, which is almost double the national recommended standard of 40:1. The volume of people using these toilets on a daily basis has caused their condition to deteriorate making them unhygienic to use. This has become a direct cause of illness, resulting in children and staff being absent on a regular basis.

Food Access
Nyantonzi has a borehole on site, supplying the school and community with a clean and sustainable water source. Although the school has a garden, it is very small and needs expansion. The little produce that is grown is used to cook a midday meal for some of the children in their school kitchen (pictured above right), which is in a dilapidated condition. The lack of access to food during the school day makes it very difficult for the children to concentrate and perform well at school.

Early Years Education
The majority of children in the North Western region, including Masindi, are struggling to achieve key education milestones in their early years. Only a third of children in Uganda are able to read and comprehend a basic sentence by P3 and in Masindi, 19% of children repeat the first few years of primary school. At Nyantonzi the statistic is even higher, with a third of those currently in classes P1 – P3 having repeated at least one year of school in 2013. With fewer children reaching the later years of primary school, this is indicative of poor preparation and attention given to younger learners to ensure they are able to progress. Despite the introduction of universal primary education in Uganda, teaching quality is poor, parents fail to understand their role in early year’s education and the learning environment is not supportive to young children. Consequently, children are failing to learn, failing to pass leaving exams and failing to move onto secondary education. There are three key barriers to early learning:

1. Poor teaching quality

Teaching quality is a significant challenge in Uganda and in the North Western region and 19% of children repeat the first few years of primary school. This is because of the lack of child friendly teaching and discipline methods in primary schools. Teachers in rural areas of Uganda are even more likely to be less qualified and less motivated than their peers in urban schools where there is better access to resources.

2. Lack of parental support

The impact of good quality learning in a child’s early years is undeniable. Studies demonstrate that early year’s education does not only facilitate the progression of children through the education system but it also strengthens their position on the labour market, their productivity and their future income generation capacity. Children who are well supported with early years learning continue to outperform their peers at school with the benefits of this support seen well into adulthood. Yet, according to UNESCO, only 14% of children in Uganda enrol in ECD classes. For the majority of children parents are their first educator, but only 25% of Ugandan parents actively support learning at home.

3. Child well-being at school

The well-being of children at schools is exceptionally low with young children and children from vulnerable groups worst affected. A Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports study (July 2013) reported that 46% of children experience bullying from teachers, and 56% from other children. This is often because teachers lack the knowledge to properly support or meet the needs of young children, and use overly harsh and aggressive teaching methods.


Building a Sustainable Future for Nyantonzi

With PIOA funding, BA will work with Nyantonzi Primary School to address the problems as prioritised by the school community. Using BA's approach to school improvement, the SMC, head teacher and teachers have begun to receive the support and training they require to help them manage progress and improve the schools long-term development. Nyanzonzi now needs support for long-lasting infrastructure and resources and to enable parents to be involved in supporting their children and the schools future. Over the next three years Nyantonzi will develop into a sustainable and well-performing institution where all the children, girls and boys alike, receive a quality education in a safe and secure environment. The key areas and activities we will focus on will include infrastructure, resources and early learning.

In the first year of support a classroom with an administration office will be constructed, with a second classroom in year 2 and a third in year three ensuring that there are enough class rooms to accommodate the high demand. Each of these classrooms will be fully furnished with desks for children as well as teacher’s desks and storage to enable them to organise and plan their teaching schedule. Built to last up to 60 years, these classrooms will provide a safe and secure learning environment for generations of children in the Nyantonzi community.
A four door block of toilet will be constructed in year 1 which will allow boys and girls to use separate facilities and reduce the ratio of children per toilet to 44:1. This is expected to dramatically improve hygiene at the school and reduce the occurrence of illnesses. Results at other schools we partner with have shown that improved school hygiene has also encouraged girls to continue to attend school during their periods. In year 3 a two door block of toilets will be constructed for the teachers so that they are able to use separate facilities to the children.

New classrooms at Kilima PS in Masindi, a Build Africa supported school.
A toilet block constructed at a school in Kumi, Uganda

Food Access
A school garden will be established and used as a demonstration plot, enabling the children to learn agricultural skills and knowledge, and teachers will be able pass on best practice in cultivation to parents. The garden will also be used to grow a regular and increased source of food at the school. A new school kitchen will be construction with storage and stove facilities, so that enough food can be cooked at the school to provide children with their mid-day meal.

Supporting Early Years Education at Nyantonzi
Engaging children in quality learning from an early age, both in and out of school, plays a critical role in their future success in education. This project seeks to change the way children are engaged in education from a young age by addressing teaching skills, motivation and resources, building parents’ ability to support children and continue learning in a home environment, and by addressing bullying and peer support in the classroom. We will work with 345 children currently enrolled in P1 – P3 at Nyantonzi and will give particular focus to children from exceptionally disadvantaged groups (orphans, children with disabilities, etc.).

1. Training for teachers to improve teaching quality

In order to support teachers to become effective in early years tuition, BA will develop a toolkit and accompanying training programme to enable the teachers at Nyantonzi to be more effective in the classroom, with specific skills to engage with younger children. This will result in children having more opportunity to reach their potential and have a brighter future.

2. Supporting parents to support their children

As part of a wider project targeting schools in the area, BA will work with parents, teachers and older children at Nyantonzi in order to provide more support and guidance to children in the early years. BA will work with parents to increase the learning support they provide to their children, building a positive learning culture at home, which means children are engaged in learning inside and outside the classroom.

3. Improving child well-being at school

Younger children will be supported through peer buddy clubs at each school. The groups will be managed by the headteachers and senior staff who will receive training in group set up and management. The peer buddies will be trained to support their younger peers and champion early learning through the clubs. Children in P1 to P3 who are identified as exceptionally disadvantaged will receive additional support through extra learning support clubs. Teachers will be trained to set up and manage these groups, utilising child-friendly methods of tuition to ensure that the most disadvantaged children have access to quality learning.

Monitoring and Evaluation

BA and PIOA are committed to measuring the impact of our work through the School Development Plan, annual audits of the school and Key Performance Indicators. In addition to established data, criteria including attendance, class sizes, facilities, staffing, HIV and AIDS awareness levels and exam performance, we are now collecting valuable data on areas such as student retention, parental involvement and teaching methods. Through this data we will be able to assess and track the long term impact which our work is having, revising and improving our work where necessary.
In the long term, by addressing the key issues which keep education quality low at the school, we will see key indicators such as exam results, progression to secondary school and parental involvement increase. In the shorter term, the impact on the school will be just as tangible; children who previously learnt in outside or dilapidated conditions will sit at a desk in a permanent classroom. Teachers and members of the SMC will be more confident in fulfilling their roles and the parents will be more involved in the school’s development, ensuring its long term future.
Nyantonzi will also benefit from Shule Yetu - ‘Our School’ - a monitoring tool that provides a holistic snapshot of a school’s level of development. It employs a participatory approach that involves a school’s key stakeholders (pupils, parents, teachers and school management) and asks them to assess the seven areas of their school development: infrastructure, management, governance, teaching and learning, community involvement, well-being of children and financial health. It has been designed so that it can be easily presented using an outcomes star (see diagram to right).

The outcomes star provides a visual snapshot which enables school communities to easily picture their school’s development; where their strengths lie and what challenges remain and it also helps school communities to identify priorities and set action plans based on a whole school community’s perception of their school. Shule Yetu has been seen positive results in both Kenya and Uganda. BA staff observed very high levels of community participation throughout the entire process, as well as a high level of enthusiasm and honesty. We will undertake the Shule Yetu process at Nyantonzi School within three months of securing funds and again in year three to monitor and evaluate the schools development.

We will seek to ensure that Nyantonzi can continue to prosper long after we have ceased funding them by enabling them to effectively manage the school, secure the income needed to pay for school’s on-going needs and keep the community involved. We do this by encouraging introducing the school community to a variety of methods, including community fundraising, advocacy, local income generation schemes and encouraging them to think creatively about which solution is most appropriate for them and begin to implement it.

To support the development of Nyantonzi Primary School over three years will cost PIOA £66,191.


All funding for this project has now been provided by Pass It On Africa. You can download the 2015 end of year report below:

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