The best of times, the worst of times..
Elspeth Dugdale | May 9, 2022
Term 2 (May - August) is poised to start - just 4 days after the holiday programme ended for the two exam classes S4 & S6. They completed a marathon of 17 weeks' solid learning: 14 weeks of term + 3 weeks of holiday work. This now leaves a gap of only 96 hours to both reflect and look forward. In conclusion, it has been both the ‘best of terms and the worst of terms' – depending on your point of view.
Literally 'a ‘dream come true’ is how some describe being back to WTA after the 2 year break. Some had even given up any hope of returning to education. They are genuinely pleased to be back and happy to be able to study, as this gives options and opportunities in the future.
In reality, a 14 week term involves getting up around 5am for morning preps, then lessons from 0730 - 1700, 6 days a week followed by evening study up to 9pm. Term 2 will be another 14 week stint, followed by yet another holiday programme and then the Term 3 is 'THE Exam Term' due to O’ and A’ levels, not to mention all the internal exams.
Alongside lessons, there have been cases of malaria, typhoid, ulcers, asthma, flu, fainting and headaches.. many students have been sent home repeatedly to bring in the remaining amount of school fees. There have been a few suspensions, expulsions, cases of petty theft and indiscipline. Such is boarding school life.
However, there have also been very many positive aspects of being back at school: celebrations of music & dance, the intense joy & energy of Sunday prayers, the physical fun and relaxation of sports & being together, new timetables, a new curriculum, new teachers, new babies, new friends - not to mention old friends meeting up again.
But it is a largely hardworking & peaceful place, with more than 800 young people moving round the site quietly. Many 'students' are in their late teens and early 20s, and the vast majority are completely focussed on trying to catch up two years of work in 9 months. Teachers are equally focussed and dedicated, often working long hours offering ‘consultation’ sessions, where students can come individually or in small groups for extra help.
In a small way, we have had the best term too; it has been genuinely heartwarming and rewarding to be back, really getting involved in school life, spending good time with Ugandan colleagues and friends. But it has been one of the hardest, longest and most challenging in a very long while. The best of times and the worst of times.