Nyabugando Parents’ Primary School defies Ebola against all odds

"They have taught us how to prevent Ebola and other diseases like cholera”

By Abel Asiimwe
ebola prevention
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Adriko
07 June 2019

Nyabugando Parents’ Primary School is one of the famous primary schools in Nyabugando Parish, Mpondwe Town Council, Kasese District. The school started in 1999 as a community initiative under the leadership of Mr. Baguma Diminatori and four untrained teachers with three classes under Kibwe Church of Uganda, Kibwe S.D.A and Kabuyiri Catholic Church buildings. 

Currently, the school has an enrolment of 1,158 (517 Males, 641 Females) with 21 qualified teachers including a Head Teacher and 4 non-teaching staff. School performance has been good and out of 47 children that sat Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) in 2018, 10 had grade one, 36 in grade two and 1 in grade three compared to 2 in grade one, 31 in grade two and 3 in grade three for 36 pupils that sat PLE in 2017.

Nyabugando Parents’ Primary School located in Mpondwe Town Council shares a border with the Eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The school is about 1.5 kilometres from Mpondwe Lhubiriha, the main Point of Entry (PoE) with DRC, and 156 (76 males, 81 females) children from DRC access the school by using the main PoE and others using Banamayi porous borders in order to attend Nyabugando Parents’ Primary. In addition, the school community neighbours two internationally gazetted parks of Queen Elizabeth National Park on the Uganda side and Virunga National Park on the DRC side. Both parks have a variety of animals and inhabitants on both sides of the border share a common culture of eating bats, monkeys among others.

“In our school, we study with some Congolese and share with them many things like knowledge, food and play with them at our school. But on the other hand, some Congolese eat wild animals and birds like monkeys, rats, snakes, cats and birds and this may be a source of Ebola which is a deadly killer disease”

Masika Gloria, pupil at Nyabugando Primary School

Consequently, with the advent of the 10th Ebola outbreak announced by World Health Organization (WHO) on 1st August 2018 in the DRC, this has put communities in Uganda bordering DRC and the school in a more vulnerable position and at high risk of getting the Ebola Virus Disease. The DRC Ebola outbreak has become the 2nd largest outbreak in the world after the West Africa outbreak in 2013-2014 that killed over 10,000 people (WHO, 2015).  As of 28th May 2019, a total of 1,945 cases had been registered, 1,851 confirmed, 94 probable and 1,208 deaths. 

To reduce the vulnerability to EVD, the school in partnership with Kasese District local government and Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), both supported by UNICEF, conducted assessments on risk communication, social mobilization (RCSM) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The assessment revealed glaring gaps including lack of information on EVD (signs and symptoms, prevention and transmission of Ebola and management of suspected cases/confirmed cases), poor hand washing practices and lack of Hand Washing Facilities (HWF). To reduce vulnerability to EVD, UNICEF provided the school with 3 hand washing facilities, soap, chlorine testing kits, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on EVD including posters and child friendly posters and worked with URCS to sensitize the school community on EVD.

UNICEF interventions at the school have helped the school to gain more knowledge on EVD including being able to identify the signs and symptoms of Ebola, how Ebola is transmitted and to prevent Ebola. The 1,158 pupils and 25 teaching and non-teaching staff have adopted hand washing practices on arrival at the school, after visiting washrooms and avoiding shaking hands with strangers and are always on alert for any suspected case.

ebola prevention
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Asiimwe

The school management committee and parents teachers association (PTA) of Nyabugando Parents’ Primary School have been sensitised on EVD and continue to actively support EVD campaigns both at school and their community gathering meetings.

UNICEF oriented 200 school teachers of Kasese District in EVD preparedness and control including one of the teachers from Nyabugando parents primary school which helped the schools to develop integrated health action plans that include EVD prevention activities. UNICEF together with URCS and district health office have reached at least 100,000 pupils from 200 schools in Kasese District with EVD messages including distribution of 25,000 Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials. The schools have been provided with the toll-free helpline number to report any suspected cases.

The UNICEF Uganda Representative, Dr. Doreen Mulenga, visited the school on 6th December 2018 to appreciate efforts of the school management committee, teachers, support staff and pupils in EVD preparedness and control. UNICEF staff together with the district health and URCS teams have continued to visit the school to remind them of the EVD risk and to promote positive behaviours in prevention and control of EVD. EVD interventions at schools such as sensitisation meetings, provision of HWF and action planning helps to promote adoption of positive behaviours.

“I like my school very much because our teachers teach us how to maintain good health habits and behaviours… they have taught us how to prevent Ebola and other diseases like cholera”

Mumbere Pipa Ashraf, P.7 pupil at Nyabugando Parents Primary School.
ebola prevention
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Asiimwe