US Army Sergeant starts non-profit organization for Uganda School

Posted January 28, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Charity ~ 3,155 views


By John Williams | Bucks Local News | YARDLEY – Matthew Byelich plans to open a self-sustaining, viable school in Uganda. His mission is to raise enough money, through his non-profit organization, to build the school. He has started a “200 people $200” campaign in order to do that.

At Byelich’s proposed school, teachers will be compensated $100 per month, which is a $50 increase from Uganda’s national average for teachers, Byelich says. His theory is that “in return for the higher pay, teachers will be more likely to achieve the desired outcomes.

“We are asking the Ugandan teachers to change their whole approach to teaching,” he said. “An incentive system needs to be in place to help ensure the teachers follow what we are asking of them.”

Byelich said that school evaluations will be instituted at the end of each term. Additionally, a yearly evaluation will take place.

Byelich said that the education crisis in Ugandan precipitates from the massive amount of debt the school witnesses upon opening. The school, therefore, cannot spend money on extra resources and personnel in order to achieve the desired educational goals.

The lending rate in Uganda is about 18 percent, and with high interests rates, no one person “owns the school outright,” Byelich says. Revenue that is generated from school fees will automatically go toward paying off previously incurred debt.

Byelich’s planned school will be different.

“The cost structure is setup so this planned school can be sustainable,” said Byelich. “The school and land will be bought out right. The school fees that will be generated will be used to help improve the school.”

An ordinary school fee is anywhere from $35 to $40 a semester or $105 to $120 per year, according to the Uganda Village Project, a group dedicated “to promote public health and sustainable development in the rural communities in southeast Uganda.”

Byelich said that these statistics match the admission fees at the school he volunteered at in Uganda. He said that his school will offer a rate around $25 a semester for a grand total of $75 per year.

“This [proposed] project can offer a lower rate since the school will not be in debt. None of the generated fees will come back to the creator of the project,” he added. “All the fees will strictly be used for the school.

“The school can expect to generate $16,450 from school fees,” Byelich estimates. “This is assuming that every class will have thirty students. He said that, through research, the average class size in the country is roughly fifty-three, and that based on that statistic, thirty students in each classroom is “a reasonable assumption.”

“The major fixed cost,” he said, “will be the teacher salaries and feeding the children lunch. After subtracting out the fixed cost, the school is left with $2,500.”

When factoring in Uganda’s weak currency, the expendable returns can last a while. Of course, Byelich adds, there are necessary utility costs that must be paid in full, including maintaining school grounds, government fees that are in place for operating a school, which essentially is registration fees and the National Social Security Fund fees.

“It is projected that the school will have about $2,000 for maintenance costs and school supplies.

In the non-profit’s mission statement, Byelich highlights that “By enhancing education, the Byelich Foundation is able to help build a better society and world.” By 2015, his goal is to “be a highly visible company known for creating the best primary school in Uganda…by educating over 200 students a year and providing employment for many Ugandans.”

His long term plans are to open additional schools in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Being a Sergeant in the Army really taught me how to be a leader,” said Byelich. “One of those key skills is learning to delegate and listen to others. For example, when Haiti suffered an earthquake in 2010, I volunteered in the Red Cross to help collect relief money for [the country]. While doing this, I met a couple who introduced me to a lawyer that builds schools in Africa.” He said the lawyer instructed him on how to obtain tax exempt status.

He said that the response from his family, friends and military buddies has been “extremely positive and encouraging.”

He believes that through the practice of written progress reports, accounting audits and on-site inspections, the school will commit to this process of “self-sufficiency.”

As of now, Byelich is ready to begin.

“My next step is to have our headmaster (Jesse William Emuge) come over to America,” he said. “I would really like him to see how American elementary schools operate.”

His goal is for Jesse to tour four schools, but nothing has been made official as of yet.

“My only gain in this venture is to serve the people of the world in any way I can,” Byelich said. “If enough children learn outside of fear, then I believe the world can grow and flourish.”

Article Source: Bucks Local News, Philadelphia, US

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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