Phiona Ngabirwe is an impressive person. She is the Head Teacher of the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda and the Chairperson of the Bizoha Women Empowerment Group.
Here we talk about her work and life, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was family background?
Phiona Ngabirwe: I am Phiona Ngabirwe. 15th born out of 18 children, I grew up in a humble family and polygamous family. We grew up doing some activities to earn a living like grazing animals and digging in the plantations to get money to help us with school fees and basic needs.
Jacobsen: What is personal background, e.g., geography, culture, language, and religion or lack thereof?
Ngabirwe: I am the headteacher at Kasese Humanist Primary School and the chairperson of the Bizoha Women Empowerment Group. I work hard to help girls and young mothers to be well.
My traditional name is Ngabirwe, which means that I was given to my parents because my mother produced only boys. So, she wanted to have a girl. At long last, she got me. She gave me that name. I am Omunyankole by tribe. I speak different languages like English, Kiswahili, little French, and our local languages here. I come from Bushenyi district. Although, I stay in Kasese. I was born a Protestant, though. In our family, we had many religions like Moslems. My mother is a born again Christian. My stepmothers are Catholic, so I grew up confused. Until, I learnt more about humanism. This made me doubt religions.
Now, I am a Humanist. I don’t think I will ever be religious again.
Jacobsen: How have these familial and personal contexts influenced direction into Kasese?
Ngabirwe: I came to Kasese in 2011 after completing my college. I was searching for a school to teach in. Lucky enough, I landed at Kasese Humanist Primary School, where I got a vacancy of teaching and what made me comfortable was that the school was a secular school. I felt at home.
Jacobsen: How is teaching at the Kasese Humanist School?
Ngabirwe: Oh, I may say that Kasese humanist schools are so unique. It gives freedom to children and being a Humanist school. It makes it different from other schools in Uganda. We follow Ugandan curriculum while teaching, but we a have a special subject which is humanism. I am proud to teach humanism in this school.
Jacobsen: What are some of the difficulties teaching at Kasese Humanist School? What are some of the rewards teaching at Kasese Humanist School?
Ngabirwe: The difficulties are not many. We only have one challenge, where most parents are religious. So, they think that school is evil. Maybe, the enemies of the school who try to destroy our name that we are not worthy. The reward is that our school is an international school. Our students are so exposed to technology.
Skills and knowledge even to the rest of the world. To me, I have met up with very many Humanists all over the world and teaching at Kasese humanist school has made me to be a very strong woman and focused.
Jacobsen: What have been the reactions of the different surrounding religion factions to the humanist educational system developed through Kasese Humanist School?
Ngabirwe: Oh, it has been very strange, very many religious leaders have tried their best to fail us in all ways by preaching against Kasese humanist. But good enough, we have stayed determined to serve and to show the truth in us.
Jacobsen: What is the curriculum taught at Kasese Humanist School?
Ngabirwe: We teach Ugandan curriculum, games, indoor sports, and outdoor activities. Only that we add humanism on a timetable, which is not in other schools.
Jacobsen: What have been the observed impacts of the children and kids coming out of the humanist school programs compared to the regular school system provided to children?
Ngabirwe: Yes, our students who complete their studies from Kasese humanist schools are always different from other students from different schools because we help our students to be good citizens, to be an example for others. They go out with skills like sewing, carpentry, and welding. This has helped them to be job creators rather than job seekers.
Jacobsen: What are the recommended materials for others who want to replicate the activities and humanist school programs of Kasese?
Ngabirwe: They need first love what they are going to do, determined and they have to read more about humanism books and maybe to have self-esteem in them.
Jacobsen: How can people become involved with or donate to Kasese Humanist School?
Ngabirwe: Oh, they can follow the links on the Kasese humanist’s website to have the details about Kasese humanist schools.
Jacobsen: Any recommended authors, organizations, or speakers?
Ngabirwe: l love the book Humanism as a Philosophy by Corliss Lamont.
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?
Ngabirwe: I am so happy and excited to have my conversation with you, and talk about my lovely school and myself. I wish everyone to know the truth about humanism and this can make the world a better place to live in.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Phiona.
Ngabirwe: You are welcome. I am very glad to get this time to talk about humanism and my school and the Bizoha women group.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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