Education looks a little different all over the world, but some similar threads run through it all. We all recognize that with education comes increased opportunities. And when people we love achieve goals in their education, we like to celebrate with them.
One of our big goals at The Shepherd Center is to provide education these boys who once had no hopes of going to school, let alone being successful in the classroom.
For those who are unfamiliar, let me layout the basics of Uganda’s educational framework.
Preschool: Baby, Middle, & Top classes. Three years, complete with class ranking right from the beginning.
Primary School: P1-P7 coordinate with Kindergarten-6th grade of the American system. At P7 students take national exams, which are an accumulation of all seven years of primary school. It’s very serious and full of pressure. Their results determine whether or not they qualify to continue on to high school, and if so, which schools will accept them.
Secondary School: S1-S6 would be like 7th grade-senior year of high school. Students first complete S1-S4, called Ordinary Levels. Many young people chose to stop there and not continue on to S5-S6, the Advanced Levels. Along the way, students have to choose a particular program to follow, where they focus on specific subjects, leaving others behind (sciences, math, arts, etc.). Both at the S4 and S6 level, children are once again under the pressure of national exams, determining whether or not they can move on. Unlike at P7, it’s not just if they can continue, but now their test results determine what they are able to study at the next level.
University or other Institution of Higher Learning: Based on their test results from secondary school, students may have the option to continue to study, in preparation for a more specialized career choice. In many cases people who have finished only S4 (and did not complete the Advanced Levels) can also pursue something higher. In most cases students can graduate with a certificate after one year, a diploma after two years, or a bachelor’s degree after three years. Of course, the really ambitious may also pursue a master’s or even doctorate degree.
With all that background, let’s get back to our boys at The Shepherd Center…
Recently we had a very exciting celebration as a TSC family. One of our boys, Joshua, has reached a milestone.
Despite Joshua’s time on the streets and early life of instability, with the help of TSC, he has finished Primary School, completed his Ordinary Levels at Secondary School, and is now studying at African College of Commerce, studying tourism. He has completed his certificate level and is currently pursuing a diploma.
Last Saturday Joshua’s school held a graduation ceremony. Even though he is continuing his education there, he was able to wear a cap and gown as a certificate level graduate. So we had a little party for Joshua’s family and TSC staff…and a group of his friends showed up too! As we tried to bring the festivities to a close, people kept popping up out of their seats, asking to for a chance to give a small speech to speak about Joshua and even offer gratitude for the role TSC has played in his life.
We are so proud of Joshua and all that he has accomplished so far, especially with a rough beginning. God has surely been faithful in his life.
The Shepherd Center is so happy and proud to be a part of his journey. Right now TSC seems to be a big part of his life story, but we look forward to a day when he can look back and see it as a small part of the long life God leads him through. We hope and pray that for Joshua, this is still just the beginning of how God will work in, through, and around him.
Thanks to his sponsors and all the friends of The Shepherd Center over the years who have been a part of the investment in Joshua’s life, and the lives of many others! Though you couldn’t come for our party, please join in our celebration!