Part 7 of our series of blog posts from our online exhibition highlighting the impact of mindfulness training in schools in Lira, Northern Uganda. With our support, our partner St Francis Family Helper Programme, an NGO based in Uganda, have carried out a pilot project where mindfulness training was provided for Teachers, Parents and Pupils in schools in the area. VC Staff travelled to the project to see how it’s impact has been felt. While visiting, they spoke to teachers, pupils and parents who believe that this project has transformed their lives. The result of these conversations is a series of stories that we would like to share with you.
Training changes Lives in Lira School
Teachers in Lira Uganda have been amazed at the impact a short training programme has had on their own lives but also the lives of the pupils they teach. One such teacher relates his experience following his training in Positive Discipline.
Michael, a teacher at Akia Primary School, Lira-Northern Uganda and a beneficiary of the positive Discipline in schools programme narrates his journey.
“Before I went for the training, I was very brutal to the children”. Says Michael, “If a child misbehaved, there were times when I would beat them mercilessly to keep the peace.”
The situation was so challenging, he admits, that some of the children even asked their parents for permission to stay at home or completely drop out. Some pupils without permission would absent themselves from class because of fear of being beaten.
Following an intensive training carried out with the school by St Francis Family Helper programme, Mbarara-Uganda (SFFHP) and supported by international NGO Viatores Christi, Michael learned a positive way of handling children and this opened his eyes. For the first time, he saw an alternative to disciplining children other than beating.
“I started implementing what I learned from the training. I began tending to the children in a friendly manner when they had a problem”, says Michael
With the activities offered under the training, Michael learned how to counsel and used this knowledge to guide children if they misbehaved. He chose to understand the children and find positive ways to solve problems. This transformation brought about change in the attitudes of the children in the school and for most that used to absent themselves, word spread that the teachers were no longer beating children which encouraged them to return to school.
Impact on Parents
The teachers of Akia primary school also extended this knowledge that they had received from the training to the parents. Parents were advised on how to deal with disobedient children and how to correct their bad behaviour using different more possitive methods. Michael said;
“Some children used to fight with their parents and some parents were refusing to pay school fees as a result. Now the parents are happier to pay school fees as the conflict between the parents and children is now managed peacefully”.
The teachers now regularly take advantage of the teacher-parent meetings at school to talk about the issue of violence and positive discipline. Michael attests to a great change in the situation at school, at home and the community as a whole. He re affirms that this change would not have been possible without the training.
Corporal Punishment in Uganda
The “positive discipline in schools” programme has been a successful pilot programme for schools in Lira District-Northern Uganda. The training has had considerable success in addressing a custom that was to award corporal punishment such as caning children when administering discipline in schools. Corporal punishment was outlawed in Uganda with the amendment of the Children Act in 2016, but it continues to be the most preferred disciplinary measure used by teachers in the country registering a 90 percent increase of cases in 2017. Psychology, Health and a Medical journal
For more stories on the impact of mindfulness training for Teachers, Parents and Pupils in schools in Lira, Northern Uganda check out our [link] online exhibition