Three students from NYU Abu Dhabi — one senior and two alumnae — have launched an education program in Africa designed to get resource-strapped teachers and students excited about mathematics.
REACH Uganda equips dozens of schools in central Uganda with essential math textbooks and provides teachers with inexpensive and creative teaching methodologies that will peak students' interest and curiosity in math subjects.
Co-founder Clara Bicalho Maia Correia, Class of 2016, said, "We were inspired to tackle the challenge of overcrowded classrooms and insufficient learning materials that many schools in Uganda reported facing. We came up with the idea while attending NYUAD together in early 2016 and traveled to Wakiso District to share our vision with local education officers and teachers," including David Kafambe, their Uganda-based partner on the project.
REACH was awarded USD 15,000 by the D-Prize, NYU Reynolds Social Venture Competition, and NYU Green Grants to launch as a pilot program from August to December 2016. The annual D-Prize for New York University students around the world offers grants for student-led programs that provide proven poverty solutions in developing countries.
"We wanted to build a sustainable program that would have a tangible impact on education and promote curiosity," added Eduardo Campillo, co-founder and current NYUAD senior. And it's working. REACH has already delivered hundreds of textbooks to Grade 6 students in more than 30 primary schools in the Wakiso District. The goal is to distribute up to 1,500 textbooks in the region before the end of the year.
At the program launch celebration, Wakiso District Education Officer Lwanga Sempiija said, “This is a historic moment. Never before has a program brought together education officers, local leaders, teachers, parents, and students to tackle the issue of learning mathematics in schools in Uganda."
"We hope this education program will improve student attendance, participation, performance, and attitudes toward the subject of math, and lessen the burden of overworked teachers," said Angelina Micha Djaja, co-founder, Class of 2016. A crucial part of the program involves engaging with teachers. The students from Abu Dhabi also led a two-day creative workshop with 16 local math teachers to help them develop new skills and knowledge that will improve student learning.
REACH Uganda is currently seeking additional funding to extend its pilot program into 2017.