by Christian Horn
"Before Right To Play joined our school, I used corporal punishment on the children," says teacher and Right To Play Coach Muriisa. "And the children began hating me."
In an educational system where there is only a slim margin for change, Right To Play is altering the course of Uganda's schools and their teachers. By using play-based methodologies, these educators are now encouraging the children in their classrooms to stay in school, while engaging them in their lessons.
"Once the students get involved in the Right To Play activities, they become proud—they are free," says Coach Muriisa. "They forget their problems at home and are influenced to attend school on a regular basis. This is also reflected upon the school attendance."
Right To Play provides the students with a new lease on life, inspiring them to influence their friends from their villages to attend school as well. As a result, classroom attendance is booming, promoting learning at a local level.
It all started last year, when we first set up our education-oriented play programs at Muriisa's primary school. The involvement was spurred by the Ugandan Educational Association when Right To Play wanted to broaden the local reach in Kampala. And according to Muriisa, it was a blessing. "We are forever thankful for Right To Play."
As a government-operated school, many of the students had endured adverse situations. Corporal punishment, a method of education common to many teachers, was the rule in many East and Southern African countries. But instead of providing a nurturing and enriched environment, it was instilling hate and fear among the children.
"Many of the students struggle outside of school," adds Coach Muriisa. "Most of them do not come from the best situations and have troubles receiving a proper amount of food." Hope had seemed futile, until Right To Play began providing an outlet for the children.
And while it may seem that our presence would only impact the participants, our Coaches are also recognizing the positive influence the programs are having on them.
"I have received a lot from Right To Play," affirms Muriisa. "I am now exposed to new methods of teaching. I do not feel the need to use corporal punishment. I am able to give my children what I have never given them before. My job has become easier, and now I love what I do and I love my students.
"I am now the most loved teacher at this school."