ARUA. In a bid to support education in government aided schools in Arua district, Arise Aliga Foundation, a West Nile based philanthropic non-profit making organization has donated scholastic materials to primary seven (P7) pupils of Ezuku primary school (PS) in Vurra sub-county.

A total of 62 P7 pupils on Friday received scholastic materials to support their learning process. The foundation also intends to extend the support to P6 pupils and later the other lower classes when the government reopens schools fully next year.

At least each pupil was able to receive two pairs of school uniform, a pair of shoes, exercise books, pens, two sets of pamphlets for each subject, three pairs of socks, a digital watch, school bag, belts, dictionary, atlas, branded exercise books, branded pens and pencils, mathematical sets, face masks, reusable sanitary pads for girls and Q&A Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) pamphlets for the past ten years.

The foundation will also provide breakfast and lunch for all P.7 pupils of 2020 academic year until they complete their PLE.

Mr Daniel Aita, the Arise Aliga Foundation programs manager said the initiative will boost the welfare of the current teachers teaching in the candidate class at Ezuku PS from October 2020 to February 2021, the month in which the pupils will finally sit their PLE.

“Aware of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for teachers to commit more within a truncated timeframe to prepare their pupils for their final examinations, the Arise Aliga Foundation shall match the net monthly salaries of the P7 teachers of Ezuku from the month of October 2020 until February 2021” Mr Aita said.

He added that the initiative will also be extended to the head teacher and his deputy if they are not P7 classroom teachers.

Meanwhile in the speech read for him by the Emeritus Bishop of Madi and West Nile diocese, Dr Joel Obetia, the Executive chairman of Arise Aliga Foundation, Mr Asega Aliga who completed his P7 at Ezuku PS disclosed that there will be annual Arua district awards given by the foundation with the aim of boosting academic performance across the district effective from 2021.

The awards dubbed ‘David Aiiku Education leadership award worth Shs10million is to be given to a head teacher in any government primary school in Arua district whose school produces at least twenty pupils in Division one in PLE,’ ‘Ogaribo Nackson Teaching Excellence Award worth Shs7.5million will be awarded to any P7 teacher in government school who produces at least twenty distinctions in any subject’ and ‘Agavile Gozan Academic Excellence Award worth Shs5million to be given to the best overall girl child in Arua district.’

Mr Aliga noted that all the awards are in honour of illustrious sons of Arua district whose exemplary lives of promoting academic excellence, selflessness, discipline and service to humanity have remained as a guiding path to the current and future generations of Arua district and Uganda.

Mr Aliga encouraged headteachers, class teachers and pupils in Ezuku and Arua district to strive to win the awards with the aim of a higher cause of preserving the names and upholding the legacy of those honorable men.

Mr Aliga emphasized that ensuring good performance in schools is a collective responsibility for all education stakeholders, adding that such collaboration can result in regaining the lost glory of primary schools like Ezuku.

In his remarks, Dr Joel Obetia decried the alarming rate of teenage pregnancy in Arua district and West Nile region, a factor he said has crippled education for many girls.

“Today, I know many girls have missed probably because they may be nursing children. They are not here due to pregnancy because somebody wants to marry a wife out of a girl and this situation has been worsened during this Covid-19 period,” Obetia stressed.

Dr Obetia reiterated that commitment and resilience is a core requirement for parents to raise good children by educating them.

Old boys and girls of Ezuku PS expressed gratitude to Arise Aliga Foundation and promised to support the initiative so as to improve performance especially in Ezuku and Arua district as a whole.

Mr Gard Matua, an old boy of Ezuku PS admitted that many parents have been defeated in providing scholastic materials to their children because of poverty. He said the donations the pupils have received from Arise Aliga Foundation have come timely to address some of the challenges.

“Many parents have been struggling when it comes to scholastic materials, sanitary pads, books and uniforms that prompt children to lose confidence in learning. This initiative is going to be a turning point and I believe that parents and children now have no excuse for poor performance,” Mr Matua who is now a teacher said.

“I have never seen this kind of support in my life. Many children are really struggling because they lack materials that prompt them not to read well. What has happened has motivated me so much as a mother,” Ms Jane Onna, a parent said.

Vurra County which is now the current Arua district has for decades been grappling with poor performance in primary schools because of various factors including poverty, rampant night discos and negligence by many parents among other factors.

Ms Christine CakuruMs Christine Cakuru, the chairperson Old girls speaks during function. PHOTO BY ATIKU INNOCENT.