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Ugandan teachers in Dublin, a city of ‘Craic’

By Conan Businge

Added 5th February 2019 02:16 PM

Ireland is well known for being a safe, welcoming society and over the years has welcomed many thousands of visitors.

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Ireland is well known for being a safe, welcoming society and over the years has welcomed many thousands of visitors.

ADVENTURE | EDUCATION

DUBLIN - As the Irish Times one time, once wrote, “If you have never had ‘The Craic’ then you are missing out. But what is the Craic’? You have heard people say– ‘Dublin, the City of Craic’. Okay! The most straightforward definition of this word is fun or enjoyment; as used in Ireland.

So in this case, Dublin is considered the city of enjoyment. Agreed. But for the five teachers, who won last year’s ‘Teachers Making a Difference Awards’ they flew into the city last Sunday, with a dream much more than fun. It was to learn new ways of teaching children in Uganda’s schools.

Ireland is an English speaking country with a long tradition in education. Media reports indeed show that the practice of educating monks dates back to the fifth century, and Ireland is sometimes known as the 'land of saints and scholars.'

Today, this country is praised for offering multicultural society where students will certainly find the highest level of education. Today this country is praised for offering multicultural society where students will certainly find the highest of education standards.

Ireland is well known for being a safe, welcoming society and over the years has welcomed many thousands of visitors. Reports show that Ireland is gradually turning into a top destination for students going for further studies.

The five teachers left Kampala city a week ago and returned last Saturday, after the fall of darkness and headed for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, before taking another flight to Dublin; thanks for Simba Travelcare and Trocaire, who charted and monitored their route to Ireland. The two organisations, managed to do this, alongside the Irish Aid working through the Irish Embassy in Uganda, and the New Vision.

“What a beautiful journey this was. It was flawless and all things seemed well prepared,” remarked the head of the team Bro. Godfrey Lutaaya, after landing at Dublin Airport in the wee hours of the morning.

The trip, was arranged as part of the prize given to the five teachers, who outcompeted 600 other nominated teachers last year, to the top prize. Apart from the sh1.5m per winning top five teachers, the sponsors also donated scholastic equipment to each of the winning top five teachers and a trip to Ireland.

After saying mass, at the Church of St. Mary’s Maynooth headed by Bishop Raymond Field; the teachers headed for the national Museum in the city centre.

 

On Monday, the team of teachers and a journalist, led Lydia McCarthy, Education Officer at Trócaire-Ireland; headed for the Irish Aid head office in Ireland, where they were welcomed by the staff and students from Drimnagh Castle CBS schools in Ireland. The students were escorted by their teacher Noel Gleeson.

They were welcomed by John O Meara, the Irish Aid’s Africa Unit and Karen Gillanders from Irish Aid’s Communications Unit.

The teacher and students’ sessions at the Irish Aid were conducted by Anne Payne and Caoimhe Butterly; who are both facilitators of the Irish Aid.

The sessions at the Irish Aid offices were also attended by Lorraine Gallagher from the Irish Embassy in Uganda; who enumerated to the students and the Irish Aid staff in Ireland, Uganda’s great contribution to supporting refugees.

 “Uganda is a great country at supporting refugees and this country needs to be saluted in this endeavor. We learn so much from Uganda in this regard, and we have been supporting the country for decades in prompting education,” she noted. 

The UNHCR notes that Uganda has been hosting refugees and asylum seekers since achieving its independence in 1962. “The country has been praised for having one of the most progressive and generous refugee laws and policy regimes in the world. In fact, the 2016 United Nations Summit for Refugees declared Uganda’s refugee policy a model,” notes UNHCR.

Meanwhile, on the second and third day, the team of teachers from Uganda, managed to visit their fellow teachers, working in public and community schools in Ireland. The schools visited, are for the teachers, who travelled to Uganda under the same awards arrangement.

Among the schools visited include Le Cheile Secondary School where Eion Walshe teaches. The team of Ugandan teachers was welcomed by students, in a merry gospel song–Nara composed by Tim Godfrey and Travis Greene. The school’s principal Dr. Aine Moran and her deputy Leona Harrington thanked Trocaire and its other partners for the partnership.

Moran said, “This initiative is great in helping schools and teachers network. We hope that we can keep learning from one another.” This is school is credited for having a great number of students from all races in the world.

On the same day on Tuesday, the teachers were hosted by Blakestown Community school, before heading to Colaiste Cois Life School where Seamus De Burca teachers. What struck the Ugandan teachers here, is finding the stories as published by New Vision, about their victory in national awards, pinned all over this teacher’s classroom. “I do cherish what Uganda’s teachers are doing. I hope we can inspire our students and other people to also make a difference in people’s lives,” he explained.

This school only teaches in Irish, as the language of instruction; unlike other schools which have both English and Irish, or at times only English as the language of instruction. The school’s principal Tomas O Donnagain noted that exposing children to the different people and circumstances, from all over the world, greatly prepares them for the future. “We have a students’ exchange programme with Mozambique and its doing wonders for us,” he noted.

The following day, the teachers headed for Bracken ETNS Castlelands school where Eileen Keane works. It is partly a special needs schools, and is well facilitated to handle pupils with special needs.  

As Keane notes, “We need to ensure that all children are given support to learn. No child deserves to be left behind.”

The team later headed to St. Brigid school, where Emma Cranny teaches. She is currently on study leave. This is a girls’ only school. The teachers were welcomed by the principal, as it was at Bracken ETNS Castlelands school.

The five teachers also had an opportunity to visit the Trocaire head office, based in Ireland’s Maynooth town; a reasonably good distance of 26.3 kilometres out of Dublin city. The teachers presented to the Trocaire staff what they are doing in Uganda.

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