Suubi’s Return


On the banks of the Nile River, 12-year-old Suubi mines sand.

Sand is a material highly sought after by Uganda’s booming construction industry. Though the pay wasn’t much, the value the community attached to mining these grains of sand was higher than the value they attached grains of knowledge a boy like Suubi might attain at school.

Sent there by his father and out of school for over a year, Suubi toiled his days away because the sand mining business is labour-intensive, and he and the other young boys like him were bouncing with energy.

And so Suubi remained out of school. Just like the sand, his education seemed to slip through his fingers—until Building Tomorrow Fellow Innocent Akampurira and Community Education Volunteer  (CEV) Allen Naisanga came along.

Pressing Suubi’s father on a child’s right to education and not to labour, and insisting on his re-enrolment in school, the father reluctantly acquiesced. But how was Suubi to catch up at school after more than a year’s absence? And how could he catch up anyway, when at 12 years old and in P4, he still didn’t know the alphabet or how to do simple addition and subtraction?

Suubi in school uniform at Bugondha Primary School in Kamuli District (Eastern Uganda)

Lucky for Suubi, a special activity was being launched at his school for kids just like him. Building Tomorrow’s Roots to Rise foundational learning initiative for literacy and numeracy allows kids to catch-up to where they should be educationally.

“Joining a new school is hard on everyone, especially if you have been out of the system for some time,” recalls Innocent empathetically. “But the Roots to Rise lessons are characterised by a lot of fun, interactive, and even physical activities that helped Suubi mix with the other learners and also catch up on what he had missed out on.”

Within no time, Suubi had re-integrated socially at school and was seeing his skills improve, too. After five weeks of one-hour Roots to Rise literacy lessons, he went from illiterate to being able to read complete paragraphs. Suubi saw the same results from five weeks of one-hour Roots to Rise numeracy lessons—going from struggling to count to mastering addition and subtraction.

“I’m so happy to see that Suubi has not only returned to school, but that he’s enjoying his studies,” reflects CEV Allen fondly.  “I really believe the sky is the limit, as long as learning is made interesting and fun for children like Suubi.”

And Roots to Rise does just that. Through interactive child-centered games that use locally-sourced materials available in even the most low-resource settings, children are improving learning outcomes in a matter of weeks.

“I want to be a businessman,” says a jolly Suubi, who now has a strong foundation in the reading and mathematics that will help him achieve his dreams.

Suubi is one of more than 53,000 children who have been brought back to school and 10,000 children who have learned foundational skills through our Thriving Schools Program. You can help more children get where they need to be by donating $20 this holiday season.

Suubi and classmates play a game of Number Wheel. A fun numeracy game whereby stones are thrown into three concentric circles representing ones, tens, and hundreds, places, the activity helps students to practice addition and place recognition in a social setting.

Stay connected with us!

Follow Us on Social Media