PEAS Article by By Mike Niles
If there was a solution that could cut your chances of contracting HIV, increase the likelihood of your child surviving beyond the age of five and result in earning more money in your career, wouldn’t you be interested to know what it is
Secondary education is sometimes not readily available to families in hard-to-reach areas of Uganda with fees to high or travel distance being too far. It is proven, however, to have a huge impact on our lives and one not-for-profit organisation have just launched their newest secondary school in Mpigi district, taking their total number of schools to 28.
PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) is an international charity that build and run low-cost secondary schools across the country. They currently educate around 16,000 children, including those at their two schools in Zambia, and have a specific focus on educational equality with over 50% of their students being girls.
One of those girls is Meraline: she is a boarder at Hibiscus School with her family living in Nyamiko, in Western Uganda.
“I would arrive at school tired, sweating, dirty and dusty,” she says, “which does not help you to feel ready for studying. Worse still, I often used to be afraid. Girls are not safe walking alone early in the morning or in the evening in lonely places. Coming here to board stabilised my heart; I feel safe in the school.”
Boarding also offers the advantage of having more time to study. “At home, we girls are expected to help fetch water, cook, clean and wash up,” adds Meraline. “Now I always have enough time for my books and to revise – as well as having light to do that by.”
PEAS’ vision is a world where all children, no matter where they are born, can enjoy an education that unlocks their potential. Two in five PEAS students (38%) are from families that live below the extreme poverty line ($1.25/day)
The charity’s office in Kampala is headed up by Francis Shanty who oversees the operations across all 28 secondary schools. Leading a team of School Directors and education specialists, Francis’ work focuses on not only improving access regardless of gender, income or high prior attainment.
“Uganda became the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to introduce a programme of Universal Secondary Education (USE) and we’ve been working hard over the past eight years to increase access. Recent results show that more PEAS students are achieving top grade than the national average with some schools achieving 100% pass rates.”
“Our education approach ensures that school leavers are well prepared to lead fulfilling and socially responsible lives.”
Financial sustainability is at the heart of the PEAS model. Due to our “SmartAid” approach, we ensure that all of our schools are financially self-sufficient which enables them to run, dependency free, for the long-term. Once a school has been set up and running for two years it is self-funding ensuring a sustainable approach to education in that community into the future.