Story by Adoch Mary Clare
Kampala, 16th December 2022
The Luigi Giussani Schools (Luigi Giussani Pre-primary and Primary School and Luigi Giussani High School) were born as a result of the experience of the women of Meeting Point International (MPI) after discovering their value and dignity. Rose (MPI director and founder) educated the women about their value and this is evident in the way they are living their lives. They have a place where they can experience love through the gaze of Rose and other friends. While they started experiencing this incredible love, they realised that their children were not living the same. Their children were attending schools where they were being reduced to their conditions like illnesses, performance, being victims of the war, poverty and many others. The mothers began to desire for their children to live the same experience they had found. They wanted a school where their children would be taught and treated as people who have value. Pushed by this desire, they made 48,000 paper necklaces and sold them in Italy through the help of AVSI (an international non-governmental organisation established in Italy in 1972) and other friends. This is how they were able to raise the finances to build the schools.
Luigi Giussani Pre-primary and Primary school (LGPPS) and Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS) have about 500 students each. The majority of the students are supported by MPI, but its unique way of education is now also attracting private students.
The desire of the women has been achieved. This is visible through a dialogue between the social workers of MPI and four senior six students (Kagame Christopher, Muganga Marvin, Nahwera Grace and Nabwire Ruth) who recently finished their national examinations. They shared the experiences they had as students of LGHS for 6 years. Christopher, Marvin and Grace are supported by MPI, whereas Ruth is a private student.
As they narrated their story, their faces vividly showed gratitude for attending high school at LGHS. According to them, this gratitude is born from the fact that they have been fully accompanied in life and as well at school.
“We were treated for our value and each person was treated uniquely as they are. We were helped to discover our value. This value we discovered helped us not to be pushed to study, but to put in our own efforts to learn. We were always free to express ourselves and always free to ask questions, even about something that didn’t concern academics. In the schools we were before, once you asked a teacher a question, it was seen as you were negatively challenging them and you were beaten for confronting someone who is older than you.”
“Am glad that we were also taught life skills! At LGHS, we were taught as a whole, it is ok to learn about Mathematics, but how will it help you if you don’t know how to behave in a society?” said Christopher.
Ruth said: “I joined LGHS in senior 6. Where I come from, school is business: the better the school performs, the more customers it attracts. You had to maintain a good performance if you wanted to remain there, the moment you started performing badly, you were told to look for another school or given brutal punishments in order to perform better. This meant that you were always studying under pressure, and that consequently led to cramming. When I joined LGHS, I immediately felt at home, this is because we were not caned, which gave me a chance to actually understand what I was being taught. There was no segregation, especially according to performance, as it was before for me. Life became beautiful at school and School also became home.”
Grace appreciated the good friends who genuinely cared for her. Her friends were not only students but also teachers and the school rector (Matteo Severgnini) who also became like a father to her. She also learnt the virtues of self-drive. Marvin is a student who lives about 30 km from school. However, he said he was always welcomed at school even when he was late. The school rector always listened to him and didn’t chase him back home. He was also always there for him if he was facing any challenge.
Marvin and Grace also appreciated the fact that they could go to School of Community. This is an educational tool for development in the experience of the encounter with Christ born out of a catholic movement called Communion and Liberation (CL), of which father Luigi Giussani was the founder. It consists of reading and personal meditation of a text proposed to the whole Movement of CL, followed by community meetings. For them, it is a place where their religious life was shaped and where they were also able to learn about life through the experiences of their friends and guidance of the adults.
In conclusion, through the dialogue with these four young people, one could clearly tell the general maturity about life they have attained, as opposed to academic gain that most schools in Uganda aim for. This is truly a gift that was born out of the desire of the women and that is being fostered by the teachers and administration of LGHS. The students speak fondly of the teachers and describe their school as home. This is because of the love and accompaniment they received from them.