Brick by Brick began its work in 2003, as a small project, partnering with rural communities in the Rakai District to completely rebuild crumbling free Universal Primary Education (UPE) Schools. While a free primary and secondary education are guaranteed by Ugandan law, it is often under-resourced leaving many schools in a terrible state of disrepair. All of our work is based on a strong partnership model. In each of the nine UPE schools where we have worked, the surrounding community has found the means to cover 25% of the cost of construction. Their contributions come in the form of labor, water, sand and other building materials as well as food and lodging for our skilled masons. This investment is no small feat, as our communities are very poor; it often takes several years to complete our projects. When our work is done there are new classrooms, a library, quality teacher housing and safe water and sanitation systems to serve students and teachers, creating a supportive learning environment for generations.
Over the past fourteen years, nine schools have been transformed into Brick by Brick Schools, serving over 3000 students. In addition to providing a supportive learning environment, our work has directly impacted the health of our students. Without our rain water harvesting systems, children are forced to walk miles to fetch water from unsafe sources. Without Brick by Brick’s energy efficient stoves, schools struggle to provide lunch for their students. Our School Program was the foundation of our My Pads Program that has empowered over 4000 adolescent girls and young women with a comprehensive education in sexual and reproductive health. In 2014, we launched the LEAD-ORGANIZE-INTEGRATE training program to build the capacity of school libraries so that they become centers of reading and literacy. This year we are piloting the RACHEL system, which provides a low cost ‘server that can connect a whole classroom of computers to a world of educational content’ without the need of the Internet.
This year we have expanded our creative partnerships with other international organizations working to improve the quality of education in sub-Saharan Africa. With California-based We Share Solar, we have provided solar powered light to eleven schools and introduced an innovative STEM-learning program. Partnering with Experi-Box, a Dutch NGO, we are supporting our students in having the opportunity to perform real scientific experiments for the first time. This term we will launch our partnership with Knowledge for Children, another innovative Dutch non-profit that helps Ugandan schools build a culture of reading through a powerful partnership model with local teachers.
Brick by Brick’s mission is to create partnerships that improve education, health and economic opportunity. As you can see, our School Program depends on the contributions of many partners. Lest we forget, the donations of so many people, large and small make our work possible. So as we watch all of the children in our lives return to school, both here in Uganda and in the US, let’s rededicate ourselves to a world where a quality education is available to all.