This is Wadujja Julius.
I had barely spent two weeks at Budwapa Primary School which serves about 3 villages of Kibaale Subcounty, Namutumba District when I met Julius.
It was a Saturday morning. Julius was burning charcoal for a colleague teacher of mine.
Without thinking twice, I was convinced that Julius is a student who had just dropped out of school due to the prolonged lockdown. He had a football player-like hair cut on his head.
I went straight to him and greeted him with “Goodmorning, how are you?”. I was so impressed that he managed to respond to these English greetings — something that is not achieved by many of the pupils in village schools, particularly the one in Julius’ village. Julius about 16years
However, Julius could only respond to these two. I attempted to advance the conversation but Julius became mute and could only give a big smile in response to every other question I asked.
I turned to the teacher (who had hired Julius to do the work) for help. I inquired from her about this jolly boy. I realized Julius was in P6 before the COVID-19 lockdown of schools and was supposed to be in P7 due to the automatic promotion ordered by the government. The teacher explained to me the challenges Julius face, coming from a family that is so poor and never bother about education. His parents couldn’t provide him with the scholastic materials, even though the school is completely free in terms of fees (UPE).
I didn’t require to verify this information from Julius or his family but I was convinced because of the work Julius was doing (burning charcoal so that he could get paid UGX5,000 ($1.5)). I told the teacher to ask him if he would be in the classroom on Monday if I bought him books. He smiled again, this time with more feelings of excitement on his face.
On Sunday, I moved to the trading center and bought Julius A4-sized books and pens.
The next Monday, Julius was in class with a trouser folded as school uniform (short) with well-trimmed hair (which I believe he used as part of the payment he received from the work he did). He has never missed school again since that day.
Teach For Uganda Fellow