If this teacher in Uganda wins $1 million, he’ll put it to work

Teachers get their hands dirty too; Ronald Ddungu, left. (Courtesy of Gayaza High School)

Ronald Ddungu is a physics and mathematics teacher at all-girls Gayaza High School in Kampala, Uganda. In the local community, he is better known as an innovator.

Ddungu makes sure his students’ learning does not stop when they leave the school each day. Around 100 senior secondary-school students teach mathematics for one hour a week to students at a rural primary school. Tutoring teaches them patience, empathy and communication skills. Some struggle in the beginning. A few of the girls must gain the confidence to teach boys close to their own age.

“They … experience the difficulty of moving forward and learn to sort out their situation,” Ddungu said. They gain a sense of self-worth in the process. And their primary-school male students have gained respect for the knowledge and skills of some “amazing” girl tutors, he said. The program has contributed to a recent tripling of enrollment at the primary school.

Sowing the seeds of respect

Learning to grow cabbage may be useful one day. (Courtesy of Gayaza High School)

Gayaza students also tend a school garden. The practical goal is to grow vegetables and fruit for poor primary-school students. But gardening also instills respect for local farmers, who are often looked down upon.

Yet another part of Ddungu’s curriculum involves the study of online videos that teach about local businesses and encourage the students to create marketing materials for them.

Ddungu’s students are learning a lot and becoming important contributors to their community in the process. Ddungu works with other schools that want to replicate his success. He said he thinks that together these schools can bring an educational revolution in Uganda.

Ddungu is one of the 50 finalists in the 2015 edition of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize for an outstanding teacher. Often referred to as the Nobel Prize for teaching, it is open to teachers in every school in every country of the world.