Walabyeki Magoba is an author and education activist. He has worked in schools in the central region of Uganda for over 20 years and set up the Kamuli Children’s Literacy & Literature Festival in 2014 as a day of fun activities focusing on the enjoyment of reading in their mother tongue –Luganda. The festival has grown year on year with increasing numbers of schools participating in Kamuli, Wakiso District. Last year the Festival scheduled for October 2017 was cancelled due to insufficient funds, which meant 850 students who had been reading, rehearsing and looking forward to participating all year, were let down. I wanted to do something as I met students from Kamuli schools in 2017 while I was on a fieldwork research trip and saw just how excited they were and how hard they had been practising for the reading, comprehension and drama activities that were to take place at the festival.
In Uganda the education policy states that children in primary school will spend the first three years learning in their local language, and then in the fourth year they start learning in English and the local language is taught as a subject. On the ground though, this policy is not always implemented. Many schools only teach in English, but this is the second language for the vast majority of students, which means they miss out on acquiring foundation literacy skills. Uganda has one of the highest school dropout rates in Africa, in 2015 Unesco has estimated that
‘68% of children in Uganda who enrol in primary school are likely to drop out before finishing the prescribed seven years’.
A contributing factor is the incompatibility of the language of instruction (English) with a child’s day to day life, where they speak in their first language.
By writing and producing story books in Luganda Mr Magoba is trying to help the children of Kamuli gain foundation literacy skills in Luganda that can be applied to help them learn English and become successfully literate in both languages. The story books that he produces are used all year round by the school children who participate in the festival and form the core of the annual drama, reading, spelling and comprehension activities.
What will donations do?
Financial support will mean all of the reading and rehearsing throughout last year can be celebrated rather than lost and new books can be produced for next year’s festival.
Your donation will promote the delayed – rather than cancelled – festival that should have taken place last year in and around Kamuli, secure a venue, pay for attendee hospitality costs, purchase prizes and trophies, produce certificates and publish 7000 story books for the next year’s festival activities:
£400.00 for promoting the event and securing venue
£800.00 for transport and food for 850 pupils from 7 primary schools
£300.00 for transport and food for teachers and parents
£500.00 for prizes, trophies and printing certificates for all participants
£3,000.00 for printing and binding 7000 story books for the 2019 festival
The continuity of this festival can make a real difference to participating children’s education. It is easier for a child to acquire literacy in English if they become literate in their mother tongue first . The Kamuli Children’s Literacy & Literature Festival counterbalances a severely under resourced area of education that can ultimately dictate a child’s future in Uganda.