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Co-op school builds and ships solar, bike-powered mobile trailer to school in Uganda

Haydon Bridge High School students' designs for a solar-powered truck

Fundraising activities by students from Haydon Bridge High School, a co-operative school in Northumberland, are paying for internet facilities in a school in Uganda – meaning students in the UK and Africa can communicate collaboratively through emails, Skype, videoconferencing and webcam.

Nimrod tests the solar-powered trailer on a vist to Haydon Bridge

Students from Haydon Bridge High School, part of the North Pennine Learning Partnership, created a solar powered mobile trailer, which has been transported to a school in Uganda packed with a laptop computer that was bought with funds raised by students at the school. Sixth form charity events will fund internet facilities for three years so cross-curricular teaching and learning experiences can be shared.

Haydon Bridge High School students' designs for a solar-powered truck

In 2010, the whole of year 10 at Haydon Bridge worked with the science and art departments during a theme week on Global Poverty delivered through the Creative Partnership programme. Students explored the concept of combining science, renewable energy sources and the arts, working with two artists and a scientist who had experience of working in different cultures. North Road School in Mbale, Uganda was contacted, and the outcome was to produce a mobile solar powered trailer to meet the needs of the students in Uganda. Mobile trailers are the most common form of transport in Uganda and consideration was given to storage space and using human energy by making it bicycle-powered. The design ideas, working photographs and final design were sent to Uganda by post and head teacher Nimrod Wambatte wrote back saying how impressed he and his students were. It was decided to fundraise to ship the trailer over to Uganda. After fifty six days of travelling the trailer arrived at the port in Kampala where Nimrod collected and transported it the last one hundred miles to the school.

Schoolchildren in Uganda

Nimrod had visited Haydon Bridge in 2010 to see the solar cart and told students about the particular challenges faced by Ugandan schoolchildren. Nimrod’s school has no electricity, and solar powered energy would allow them to use electrical devices such as a light bulb, a radio and a tannoy speaker that would mean all three thousand pupils would hear what was said in assembly. There is no hot water, flushing toilets, or lighting in the school. Dinner is cooked on a fire stove and there is one choice on the menu. The printing copier is mechanical and takes many labouring hours to produce a few sheets. Chalk is a valuable commodity and has to be used sparingly to teach with. Class sizes are a hundred and ninety students (bigger than a whole year group of Haydon Bridge). Many students walk as far as ten miles to get to school.

Haydon Bridge High School has built and shipped a solar-powered trailer to Uganda

The school is now planning a joint literacy project with students from North Road School. Haydon Bridge’s new technology media suite will allow students to explore a diverse range of communication including DVD video diaries, podcasts and radio broadcasting. The Ugandan students now have facilities to respond with live storytelling, diary accounts, interviews and imagery as well as emails, face book and pen pal letter writing. Students will put on a final show and tell performance for their peers family and community, and create and illustrate a book of creative writing, which will be published and sold with all proceeds going to students’ education in Uganda.

Haydon Bridge High School has built and shipped a solar-powered trailer to Uganda

Haydon Bridge also hosted guests from Kampala in September 2011. The Pearl of Africa choir worked with students during the day and did a performance in the evening of traditional African music, dance and drumming to raise funds that will provide thousands of orphaned children in Uganda with food, shelter and an education. There are 2 million orphans in Uganda as a result of HIV/AIDs, disease and war. Orphans are cared for in schools funded by the Molly and Paul Wassa Foundation in the country.

Haydon Bridge High School has built and shipped a solar-powered trailer to Uganda

It is hoped that, in the future, exchanges will take place with schools in the North Pennine Learning Partnership and Uganda, and teaching and learning can be developed together further. Through collaborative teaching and learning, the schools aim to enhance students’ experiences and encourage inspiration, self motivation, respect and awareness of values and cultural differences.

Haydon Bridge High School has built and shipped a solar-powered trailer to Uganda

See reports on Haydon Bridge's Uganda projects and photos in these extracts from the school's newsletters:

September 2011 newsletter

March 2011 newsletter