Quench and Connect will work directly with secondary schools to identify teaching tools and support materials that will enhance academic achievement. After the borehole is in place at each secondary school, and students are healthy and ready to study, Quench and Connect will meet with the Head Master and teachers to identify specific needs for teaching tools at that school. The needs are significant. Most schools in Uganda have no textbooks, and teachers read aloud from standard curriculum texts. Students laboriously copy the material into their notebooks, to be studied later. There is a national curriculum, and students are tested by standardized national examinations. Without any textbooks, or supplementary charts, maps or tables, students struggle to learn the information they need to pass the exams. Since most of the private secondary schools are located in rural areas, many of the schools have little or no electricity. Most schools do not have computers, although the government has now mandated that computer science be taught at the secondary level. For the science subjects, teachers report that they have no equipment or reagents to teach science labs. After discussions with teaching staff at each project school, Quench and Connect seeks individual or corporate donors to provide the specific items needed at the school. Emphasis is given to the areas where there are talented teachers already on staff. In this way, Quench and Connect simply supports the Ugandan curriculum, according to their own national educational priorities. When the school gets the necessary teaching tools, academic strength and student achievement are enhanced. For example, the VWR Charitable Foundation (a community action ‘arm’ of a science supply company VWR Scientific) awarded a grant to Quench and Connect for the purchase of textbooks, small lab equipment, and chemical reagents for an academically strong school in Gayaza Uganda. After getting this equipment the school began teaching biology, chemistry and physics labs. Students performed very well on the national exams, and last year this school was ranked sixth in Science among 322 schools in the strongest district in Uganda!!
In 2000, world leaders at the United Nations announced their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the world and, next to poverty and hunger, education was highlighted as a clear priority. The group recognized that education is key for the well-being, health and economic level of individual humans. The MDGs focused on school attendance since reaching a certain level of education is an accomplishment that is retained throughout an individual's life. Recently, the effect of education on the ‘macro’ scale, i.e., the economic growth of a region, has been analyzed*. The results showed that education positively affects economic growth, and these data can now be used to model projected effects for developing nations**. Although real progress has been made in primary school enrollment and completion (now at ~50% in sub-Saharan countries), the Millennium Development Goals 2010 Report states that the MDG goal of universal primary education cannot yet be met in most poor nations, and the United Nations has extended the target date to 2020 to achieve this goal. At the secondary level, the challenges are even greater. Impoverished nations that are farthest away from new technologies profit most from increased and stable educational structure. Education of children translates into improved human work force, and the long-term benefit to the local society is undeniable.
*[Lutz, W., Goujon, A., Samir, K.C. and Sanderson. Vienna Yearb. Popul. Res. 2007, 193 (2007); Lutz., W., Cuaresma, J.C. and Sanderson, W. The Demography of Educational Attainment and Economic Growth, Science 319:1047 (2007)]. **[Cohen, J., Bloom, D.E., Malin, M.B., Eds., Educating All Children: A Global Agenda, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge MA (2007); Mingat, A., Ledoux, B. and Rakotomalala, R. (2010) Developing Post-primary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Assessing the Financial Sustainability of Alternative Pathways, World Bank, Washington D.C.]