At Wyedean we realise that we have wonderful community but one that is largely mono-cultural. Thus, it's vital that we offer members of our community opportunities to learn about and meet people from a variety of backgrounds, locations and cultures. We are currently applying for the International Schools Award and hope to use this process as a vehicle to encourage the celebration of the similarities and differences across our school, local, national and international communities. Through doing this work we hope to expand the minds and broaden the horizons of our students.
WYEDEAN'S INTERNATIONAL LINKS. Our aims are to enable our students to learn more about global issues and to:
- Celebrate the cultural similarities and differences in Wyedean and in our local, national and international communities.
- Respect and value different cultures and beliefs.
- Enjoy regular contact with students and adults living in different countries and different parts of the UK.
- Broaden the horizons of our students and staff.
Through doing this work we hope to:
- To develop a strong awareness of similarities and differences in lifestyles and culture in a range of other countries and in our UK partner schools.
- To continue to expand the way we integrate an international dimension in our curriculum and extra-curriculum programmes.
- To extend the benefits of the global dimension to our partner primary school.
This will be achieved through:
- Curriculum work that raises awareness of other countries and cultures.
- Interacting with visitors from other countries (students and adults).
- Student/staff visits to places of cultural interest in the UK and abroad.
- Student exchanges and foreign work experience placements.
- To organise celebrations of cultural diversity, including Respect Week.
One of our most celebrated international projects is our work with Orungo High School. We have been linked with Orungo since 2008 and both schools have undertaken various projects that promote an understanding of each other's cultures. Every year our students visit the school to help maintain a personal link and develop our joint curriculum projects.
Orungo High School.
Orungo High School is situated in North. East Uganda, about 25 miles north of Soroti. The school has experienced violent attacks from the Karamajong (marauding tribesman in the east) and the armed militia of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The political situation has improved of late but the school still experiences many hardships. Malaria, unemployment, HIVAIDS, and shortages of water continue to be huge problems in the region.
The school is part of a rural community where people live off small scale subsistence farming. There are very few employment opportunities in the area. People still predominantly live in huts made of mud bricks and thatch roofs. Students travel various distances to attend school, all them on foot or bicycle. Many are extremely poor and cannot afford lunch, surviving on one meal a day. Despite this, the students are extremely motivated and determined to achieve high grades. For them, this is their way out of poverty.
Eight years ago the whole of the Orungo area was overrun by the LRA which set up its regional headquarters in Orungo High School. The LRA is an illegal militia set upon overthrowing the government and establishing a radical Christian state. They specialize in kidnapping children and forcing them to fight as child soldiers or become slaves. They are subjected to horrific acts of violence and barbarity with some being forced to kill friends and family members. All 24 teachers fled the area to Soroti, along with many of the 800 pupils. Those who could not escape were killed or kidnapped. The school do have some former child soldiers on roll and these students have had to undergo extensive counselling as a result of the atrocities they either saw or committed. One of the kidnapped students has never returned. His fate is unknown.
The LRA overran and occupied the school in 2003. The terrified local population moved to Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDPs) for their own safety. Up to 30,000 people lived in the camp at Orungo. Conditions were appalling. The community was reliant on food aid and protection from poorly resourced government forces. Disease, malnutrition and death were commonplace. The camp was subject to numerous raids by the LRA where many people were killed or kidnapped. After 9 months the LRA were driven out by local militias armed by the government. During the time they spent at the school the LRA destroyed all the school furniture and used it as firewood. Only one desk remained and the teachers' quarters were completely destroyed.
Thankfully the situation in Orungo has improved considerably in recent years. Exam grades are on the up and the number of students now attending the school has increased dramatically. The area is peaceful and students can fully concentrate on their studies. The local government has invested significant levels of funding into the area and Orungo has benefited from extra class rooms being built and the installation of some solar power generators and computers. Students from Wyedean have been regular visitors to Orungo for the last five years through expeditions organized by The Care and Share Foundation Life Bridging Works. In 2008 Wyedean was formally twinned with the school. Thus far, Wyedean students have raised funds that have helped pay for the refurbishment of the girls' dormitories, three laptop computers and solar power chargers. The next stage in our partnership is to plan and deliver collaborative curriculum projects that broaden the horizons of students in both schools.