An outstanding Ugandan school has been named a Top 3 finalist for the new $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes, launched this year by T4 Education in collaboration with Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express.
Project Shelter Wakadogo in Gulu, Uganda, which was founded in the wake of war and now educates over 450 children with one of the highest student retention rates in the country, is a Top 3 finalist for the World’s Best School Prize for Overcoming Adversity. The Uganda-based project was first selected among the 10 finalists in mid June this year.
(TOP: Students during a class session at Project Shelter Wakadogo).
The five World’s Best School Prizes – for Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity, and Supporting Healthy Lives – celebrate schools everywhere for the pivotal role they play in developing the next generation of learners and for their enormous contribution to society’s progress especially in the wake of COVID.
The Prizes were founded by T4 Education in collaboration with Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture, American Express, Yayasan Hasanah, the Lemann Foundation, D2L, Mellby Gård, and Universidad Camilo José Cela, to share the best practices of schools that are transforming the lives of their students and making a real difference to their communities.
Vikas Pota, Founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, said: “As the world looks to rebuild from the devastation of the COVID pandemic, far too many children will continue to be left behind unless we see urgent action on education. Leaders must learn from the knowledge and experience contained within our schools because those on the frontlines of education know better than anyone else the change we need to see.
“The World’s Best School Prizes surface the expertise of inspirational schools from every corner of the globe. It’s time for governments everywhere to listen to their voices. Congratulations to Project Shelter Wakadogo for being named a Top 3 finalist for the first-ever World’s Best School Prizes. Teachers everywhere will be inspired by the example of this outstanding Ugandan school.”
Project Shelter Wakadogo in Gulu, Uganda, has flourished from a school with only two classrooms founded in the wake of war to now educating over 450 children with one of the highest student retention rates in the country.
In the aftermath of two decades of civil war and the violence committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which displaced over a million people in Northern Uganda, families in the village of Pece Acoyo in Gulu were slowly returning to their homes. Amongst the wreckage left by the war, calls for a safe, quality school began to grow. Through a large community effort Project Shelter Wakadogo was born – land was procured, roads leading to the school were levelled and vegetables were planted to be used for school meals. In 2009, the school opened. The name Wakadogo reflects the school’s mission to extend a duty of care to those who walked through its doors, meaning ‘for the little ones’ in Swahili.
Its commitment to provide free school meals, healthcare and a quality education for the surrounding community, has seen the school become a second home for many.
When Uganda imposed a long lockdown during the pandemic, Project Shelter Wakadogo quickly determined that online schooling wouldn’t be possible for its students. In Uganda, only 2% of the population has access to personal computers and less than 9% of the rural population has access to the internet. Instead, Project Shelter Wakadogo pivoted to conducting 36,000 home-schooling lessons during the pandemic. This dedication to continue to provide education to its students was crucial as the school closures across Uganda saw children forced into the labour market, a rise in teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence.
If Project Shelter Wakadogo were to win the $50,000 World’s Best School Prize for Overcoming Adversity, it will use the funds to set up a Computer Lab with 50 laptops and 50 tablets and solar technology to teach information technology (IT) and facilitate hybrid and remedial learning, in case schools should ever close again. Families and members of the community will be invited to access the Computer Lab after school, on weekends and during school holidays. Wakadogo will create a course timetable for community members to sign up to. The school also plans to invite neighbouring schools to use Wakadogo’s Computer Lab during school holidays and weekends. A new ICT Teacher will be hired to provide training and support. Wakadogo expects to reach 3,000 students, teachers, parents and community members through this initiative.
The Top 3 finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes will now be entered into a Public Advisory Vote. Members of the public have until October 2 to tell judges who they think should win each prize at using this link – worldsbestschool.org/
The Judging Academy, comprising distinguished leaders all across the globe including academics, educators, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and the private sector, will be presented with the results of the public advisory vote and will assess the finalists based on rigorous criteria.
The winners will be announced on October 19 2022 at World Education Week. A prize of $250,000 will be shared equally among the winners of the five Prizes, with each receiving an award of $50,000.
All shortlisted schools across the five Prizes will share their best practices during events at World Education Week and through School Transformation Toolkits that showcase their “secret sauce” to innovative approaches and step-by-step instructions on how others can replicate their methods to help improve education everywhere.
T4 Education works by building the world’s largest community of teachers and schools to achieve this. The organization’s digital media platform provides opportunities for educators to network, collaborate, share good practices, and support each other’s efforts to improve learning. It works to amplify teachers’ voices based on the belief that the world it envisions will only be built by listening to those at the heart of education.