RedEarth Education Blog - Feb 2017

The latest Blog from Uganda - February 2017

Testing Times! - an update from Redearth volunteer, Lydia

As the Ugandan academic year drew to a close, the focus in schools shifted to testing. Primary 7s sat the high-pressure Primary Leaving Examination and younger children were tested to judge whether they should move from one class to the next. At Redearth, too, we rounded off the year with assessment – which was more exciting than you might think!

Primary 1 children enjoying maths during an achievement award observation.

First, we tested samples of children all over the district in basic reading and maths. In 2014 only 10% of Ugandan pupils in Primary 3 and 31% in Primary 7 could read a Primary 2-level story in their own language. In some schools we visited these statistics were, unfortunately, easy to believe. However, our assessments also showed the positive impact Redearth reading programmes have had.

A 12-year old works out answers during the basic maths test

While conducting the maths tests, we were fascinated as one child after another drew marks along their arms, legs, and whatever they could find. After suggesting they use the paper, it became clear that they had been drilled in specific methods of counting by ones for all sorts of questions – which, for something like 7 x 9, clearly needs quite some room!

The end of the year also meant assessments for the annual achievement awards – an opportunity to evaluate, but also celebrate, the progress schools have made. Between us we visited all district schools in the Redearth programme (almost seventy!), observing lessons, speaking to stakeholders, and evaluating school environments.

After each visit we returned with stories of standout lessons and – especially for us as volunteers – surprises: the school which had grown learning aids from flowering plants, the evident astonishment in some interviews that positive behaviour management was having better results than beating, and topic choices which would have been avoided during any UK school inspection… (breastfeeding, for example?). In any case, there was much to be encouraged by and we’re looking forward to recognising the achievements of schools and teachers formally when the new school year begins.


RedEarth Achievement Awards - Josephine's latest blog

November brought with it the Redearth Achievement awards! Both teachers and pupils were eager to show the RedEarth assessors how much they have improved over the year!

Read all about it!

Thanks Josephine for this fabulous report.


Josephine Ann Lumb and Jennifer Emily May have arrived in Uganda as this years volunteers for Redearth Education. Once again REd Teachers are proud to have sponsored their passage and are delighted to have the opportunity to support the education of hundreds of childern in East Africa.

Josephine's first blog!

The Many Uses of Bottles- by Josephine Lumb

I have made it to Uganda!

The first two weeks have been a whirlwind of meeting lots of new faces and getting acclimatised to the busy streets of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. It is a place of constant noise; horns, people, animals and music. It is the sort of place you risk your life every time you try and cross the road. Of course the Kampalan’s didn’t see it like this and just thought it was funny watching us step out onto the road and then scurry back again, deciding it was too risky!

After Kampala, myself and the other volunteer, Jenny travelled up to Masindi- A much quieter town than Kampala, where the birds are definitely the loudest noise.

Over the two weeks, we have done lots of training alongside RedEarth. We have trained headteachers, inspectors and lead teachers, all of whom have enjoyed the training and have seemed enthusiastic about taking new skills and ideas back to their schools.

One area of the training I have been particularly impressed with is how everything that we might normally deem rubbish can be used to enhance a classroom’s learning environment or act as a learning aid.

For example, a plastic bottle which I wouldn’t think twice about throwing in the bin has many uses:

  • Storing chalk and board rubbers
  • Making bottle lines, these can be used to hold letters and numbers, then used interactively to teach reading and counting.
  • Collecting group points in the newly introduced reward system.
  • bottle tops are used as points


Bottle lines being used by a child in a lesson.


Cardboard is also widely used to make all sorts of fantastic aids that help children become more independent learners. Letters of the alphabet, games like bingo and pairs, number fans and reading frames.

All made with cardboard-Inspectors seeing how children can use frames and phonics knowledge to build up words.


Rice sacks are used to make colourful interactive displays for the classroom and also used to make books. Books and other reading material is noticeably missing from most classrooms, and indeed many of the local communities.

All these resources are being used to help children be more active and independent in lessons. Learning aids are a totally new concept to the majority of Ugandan schools, where previously the majority of learning took place by rote. The best thing about these resources is that they are locally available and can easily be made.

A trophy made out of local resources. Any guesses as to how it is made and held together? Clue- there is no glue!


I even saw boys playing football with a banana fibre ball.


Since arriving I have met lots of local people and have been made to feel very welcome. Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to meeting all 11 of the schools I will be supporting and beginning to work with them to implement changes in their classrooms.


Tom and Melissa have now returned to the UK, thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of the teachers and children that you have worked with and helped so much this year!

Tom amd Melissa travel across Africa!

This year we have sponsored Tom and Melissa to travel out to Uganda to work with REDEARTH Education to help train teachers. They have been traveling from Masindi all the way down to Cape Town in South Africa helping to develop teachers skills and confidence in their work. During their time there, they have also helped to set up new schools, helping them to aim towards the higher levels on the REDEARTH Achievement Award programme.

The charity's Facebook page can be found here:

Tom gets a lift!


An update from Tom out in Uganda!

"It has been a busy but hugely rewarding first two months with Redearth Education. 

It has been great to build relationships with the Headteachers and teachers from the eight primary schools with which I have been working. 

Particular areas of focus have included the use of open questioning to engage students and the benefits of employing greater student discussion in order to build confidence and inquiry. 

I am really excited about being involved in the forthcoming school assessments and continuing my in-school support work in the new year from February."

All best for now,


Thank you Nikki and Ali and welcome Tom and Melissa!

We would like to say THANK YOU to Ali and Nikki for all of their dedicated and hard work over the past year on behalf of Redearth and the children and teachers in Masindi.  We wish them both well as they return to teaching in the UK.  Good luck with everything from all of us at REd.

Sad as it is to see Nikki and Ali departing it is wonderful to bring news of Tom and Meilissa who have now arrived in Masindi at the start of their exciting year. We are delighted to be able to continue our support of Redearth's work by sponsoring them both to be there.

            Tom starts his work!

Just a little word from Tom:

Having taught in UK schools since 2008 I am thrilled to be able to take this incredible opportunity to volunteer abroad for a year with Redearth Education, an NGO working on teacher development in schools in north western Uganda's Masindi District. I am really excited to be embracing operating in such a refreshing and dynamic context. Leading a group of eighteen-year-old students in 2013 for three and a half weeks’ voluntary work in primary and secondary schools in central, south-western and eastern Uganda was a inspiring experience that exposed me to many of the demands of supporting effective educational provision in the developing world. The time spent there aabsolutely confirmed that this opportunity with Redearth is the right one for me; indeed, I am confident that the experience is going to offer the alternative focus, new priorities, and fresh perspective on the world that I am seeking.




Please watch the latest REDEARTH video produced by Nikki and Ali


Congratulations to Nikki and Ali who have now arrived in Uganda and have been set straight to work on their exiting year with REDEARTH.

It is good to see that they still had time for a cup of tea from their REd Mugs!!


Good luck for the year ahead ladies!

If any Teachers are interested in applying to spend time in Uganda during the summer of 2014 please drop Chris a line at

Follow the blog:

REd Teachers are delighted to announce the first teachers to be sponsored to travel to Uganda to voluneer with REDEARTH Education

Nikki an Ali have now settled into their new home in Uganda and have been working tirelessly to devlop the teaching in the schools out there.  Please follow their BLOG -

REd Teachers are working in partnership with the charity REDEARTH Education on opportunities for teachers to experience working in rural Uganda. This will be a fabulous opportunity to support the work of REDEARTH Education, the children and the teachers in Ugandan schools. 

Redearth Education work in a rural district of Uganda. Primary education has only been free since 1997. Classes are usually very large (there can be as many as 300 to class, although the average is probably around 80) and there are extremely limited resources. Teachers have virtually no access to new ideas about teaching and learning as there are very rare opportunities for professional development.

Children’s life chances anywhere in the world are enhanced by teachers who engage them in exciting, motivating and relevant activities. These are likely to have much higher success in developing their learning and achieving better outcomes.

Working in schools with teachers and children and providing training through our training programmes we are providing opportunities for teachers to develop good practice in interactive teaching methods.

If you are interested in these opportunities please contact us at or REDEARTH Education directly for further details or speak to us at your University when we visit.

Please visit REDEARTH Education's website for further details:

or email

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