07/06/2011 05:46 pm ET | Updated Sep 05, 2011

Why a School Is More Than Just a Building

In 1996, President Museveni of Uganda promised his people that the government would provide free primary education for up to four children per family - a program commonly called Universal Primary Education -- our version of a free system of Public School. However, Uganda's government-sponsored Universal Primary Education (UPE) program may have proved too much for a country recovering from civil turmoil. Families immediately responded and enrollment rates quickly skyrocketed -- nearly a million kids showed up for "free" school and the government could not afford the giant cost to make sure the schools were running effectively with adequate structures, books and supplies, trained teachers and more.

2011-07-06-100_5595.jpeg Photo by Vivian Glyck

Can you imagine if we in the U.S. were in this situation? Sure we have serious issues with our public schools, including school districts increasing a classroom size from 22 to 30 students per teacher, failing schools, and low-quality teachers. Often we are asked to help out with supplies, and of course there are all those PTA "events" to raise funds for the school. But what if your only available choice was one school and that school happened to have over 100 students per class per teacher? AND your child had to share a desk with at least a dozen other students, with no books, resources, or even chalk to use on the cracked black board? As much as parents at the rural Ugandan schools try to close the chasm of need, most often the demands of the children cannot be met.

What would you do if this were happening to your child or at your child's school? Just Like My Child has learned, after we've helped build six school structures, that in order for our schools to be more than just a building, we need to help fill the gap. Our first school, The Children's Academy of the Collective Heart, is a private school which we have helped stock with amazing teachers, an extraordinarily talented Headmistress, and enough books and supplies so that every child can learn.

We are now leveraging the enormous brain trust we have at that school to help all of the public schools we have rebuilt. We are conducting teacher trainings and supporting the formation of parent teacher associations that help the schools maintain a clear and compelling future for extraordinary education. In addition, we are raising awareness and funds so that children in all of our schools can have books and other educational resources.

2011-07-06-IMG_0206.jpeg Photo by Vivian Glyck

Just Like My Child wants every child in Uganda to have a safe place to learn, happy and well-trained educators, and the materials required for a promising future.

Through Just Like My Child's "Project Universal Education" thousands of children will attend clean, bright, and safe schools that they previously would never have been able to access. Just $100 helps provide a Ugandan student with his or her own desk, school supplies, and textbooks for the entire year? You can help support our efforts by making a tax deductible gift here.

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