Pay it Forward
April 9, 2012
A couple times each week, I field a phone call from our Country Director in Uganda, Joseph Kaliisa. He updates the construction progress at a number of our sites and fills us in on whatâ€™s taking place at our Building Tomorrow academies. During one of our last calls, he was beaming.
â€œThe parents and the students have started a pay-it-forward fund. This must be a first here.â€
The parents and students Joseph was talking about are those from the Building Tomorrow Academy of Lutisiâ€”a nearly four-year-old school that sent its first batch of graduates to secondary school in 2011. Built and opened in 2008 through Building Tomorrowâ€™s unique cost-sharing model between a US donor community, a handful of villages and the local ministry of education, Lutisi has quickly become a model school.
At a regular School Management Committee meeting last week, the families of the 15 students now attending St. Johnâ€™s Secondary School in Namboole, just outside the capital of Kampala, decided it was time to give back. In a really, really big way.
Each family committed to an annual contribution of 60,000 Ugandan Shillings, about $26, to underwrite the costs of improving the quality of education at the Building Tomorrow Academy of Lutisi. Their donations will be used to provide resources for students preparing to sit for the national Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) and other scholastic materials for their younger counterparts. And thatâ€™s in addition to the materials the families have committed to purchasing for their students to attend secondary school.
Now thatâ€™s a real return on investment.
As our Honorary Chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu says,â€œEducation is the key that will unlock the door to eradicating poverty.â€ In Lutisi, the key is in the door. With the World Bank estimating more than 67 million primary school age children out of school in 2009, you and I have much work to do.