The Uganda Humanist Schools Association (UHSA) is a forum for mutual support for schools in Uganda that share the Humanist aims outlined in the 2002 Amsterdam Declaration of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. The schools offer liberal, humanist education to needy children. Founded by Ugandan Humanists and run as charities, the schools are inclusive and do not discriminate on grounds of religion, social or ethnic background.
Founder members of the Association are:
- Isaac Newton High School, Katera, Masaka – founded by Peter Kisirinya in 2004
- Mustard Seed School, Busota, Kamuli – founded by Moses Kamya in 2005
- Kasese Humanist Primary School – Founded by Robert Bwambale in Western Uganda.
The founders met at Makerere University, where they worked to create the Uganda Humanist Association (UHASSO). In 2004 UHASSO, took the bold step of inviting the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) to host a “Humanist Visions for Africa Conference” in Kampala. Discussions at this meeting provided the catalyst for the creation of these pioneering humanist schools, which embrace Humanist principles.
In November 2008, they took the further step of forming the Uganda Humanist Schools Association to foster collaboration between the schools. The Association, chaired by Peter Kisirinya, is dedicated to monitoring educational standards, sharing best practice, promoting professional development and pioneering the development of a secular-humanist approach schooling.
All schools teach the Uganda national curriculum and prepare students for public examinations. At the same time, they aim to develop self-confident students who care for each other and for their local communities. The schools encourage students to be open minded and questioning. They are taught to respect evidence and to appreciate the need for shared human values. In order to foster a spirit of understanding, students are introduced to both religious, as required by the national curriculum, and secular humanist philosophies.
The schools are beginning to offer an effective, caring and distinctive learning environment for children in deprived rural areas. They aim for an education that respects:
- freedom of thought and expression;
- rational enquiry, science and the need to support argument with evidence;
- human rights, gender and racial equality, and the rights of individuals to choose their personal life stance;
- high levels of achievement and social responsibility.
In May 2015 UHSA embarked on the task of embedding the humanist ethos into all aspects of the running of the schools. The Humanist Ethos Project is jointly funded by IHEU and Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (UHST). The project is developing a uniquely Humanist approach to teaching methods, curriculum, discipline and pastoral care. The effects are already beginning to show in rising academic standards, student welfare and student and parental satisfaction.