Tofta Educational Trust: Rotarian John Kirkwood

 

Past President Ken Dickson introduced PP of Ginga Uganda Rotary Club John Kirkwood to talk about his club's involvement in the Tofta Educational Trust.  John discussed that he is part of District 9211 which includes clubs in Uganda and Tanzania.  The objective of the Tofta Educational Trust established by John in 1998 is to provide funding for students to attend secondary school.  While primary school costs are manageable for most families, the prohibitive costs of secondary education in Uganda makes it impossible for many families to have their children attend secondary school.  John sees the opportunity to sponsor a child to attend secondary school as saving a lost soul.  By attending secondary school it is the hope that students will be able to break the vicious cycle of poverty and despair that occurs as children are not able to progress and receive an education and are left to receive only menial labour to earn an income.  The Torrie Pines Club in the United States supports this endeavour and has created charitable platform through which donations can be directed. John's hope is that the same opportunity can be created here in Canada.
 
While John is very proud of the more than 2000 children who have been helped by the program, they receive over 1000 applications each year for the financial support and not every request can be honoured.  As an extension the Tofta Educational Trust has created its own school Lords Meade Vocational College in 2001 to assist in providing secondary education students in Uganda.    John presented a number of examples of how support for the TET had helped children and some adults obtain a secondary education including a 28 year old woman who had originally attended secondary school but had to drop out when her father lost her job, and then got pregnant, married and pregnant again, then left her husband and is now attending school with her 2 children due to the support of TET.
 
John advised that Lorde Meads Vocational College while providing all the essential aspects of secondary education also provides vocational training to provide much needed work related skills to its students.  For a cost of $2 a day a student can attend Lorde Meades and receive dormitory accommodation, 3 meals a day and their courses.  While there are additional costs not covered by the $2 a day cost, it shows that a very limited amount of money can provide a comprehensive education program for secondary school aged children in Uganda.