Chrysalis Secondary School, Uganda

by Ben Parkinson in Omoro, Lira, Uganda

Chrysalis Secondary School, Uganda

Total raised £279

raised so far

+ est. £12.50 Gift Aid



This unique remote secondary school will encourage students to be rural changemakers after a year suffering under CoVID-19 restrictions.

by Ben Parkinson in Omoro, Lira, Uganda

Chrysalis is a unique charity whose staff delivers training to young people to become social entrepreneurs.  This means we teach our project members to see themselves as the architects of change, not simply recipients of support.

Now that the re-opening of school has been confirmed, it is crucial that schools are available, equipped to reduce the risks of COVID-19 spreading further and ensure that children do not continue to suffer from lack of schooling.

The Chrysalis Secondary School will become a headquarters for all of our village-based activities, as well as training youth from rural areas in how they can create change as a social entrepreneur.



Uganda’s educational system is recognised as one which performs well against a background of other educational systems in Africa.  Many travel from neighbouring countries to study in Uganda.  However, there are still a number of issues which have been hard for the Ministry to address moving forward:

While gradually improving, caning and teacher violence is still endemic with schools and this causes children often to fear their teachers and lose confidence in their abilitiesEquipment is always in short supply, as there are a great number of children and too few resources for them.  For example, computers are almost always seen only in secondary and they are of a low qualityCertain subjects are extremely rare amongst teachers in Uganda.  Topics such as scientific and ethical issues, computer programming, social enterprise etc. are not seen in curriculumEncouraging sports and fitness are important in a modern society.  In Primary, sports are done only in one term, in secondary it may not appear at all within the curriculum.Teacher training needs improvement and often teachers lack much knowledge around their subject or global issues for inquisitive pupils.  As a result teachers often discourage questioning.  Others are sexist and can discourage girls from learning.Films are rarely used in schools, either in Primary or Secondary.  Power is also rarely available in rural schools and so children do not have an opportunity to hear native English speakers.Encouragement should be the norm; punishment the exception

We find that the above issues often mean that children cannot discover their talents at Primary level and cannot develop them at secondary.  Fear in classrooms does not develop leadership or self confidence and the breadth of education is not as wide as it could be if utilising educational films.  Knowledge of global culture can be extended if children were to become aware about life outside Uganda.  All of these are very important for members of the Butterfly Project, where we expect children to become versatile and confident leaders, who can show vision and ability to create change.  

Uganda is still amongst the poorest countries in the world and so visionaries are needed who can bring about social change and inspire new projects.  Schools like our Chrysalis Secondary School can help form the minds of these young changemakers that are needed.

Introduction and Overview

The Chrysalis Secondary School is more than a school, it will be a centre for regional transformation and social entrepreneurship in Northern Uganda.  

The project will incorporate the following elements:

Secondary School and accommodation – six classesFarm and greenhouse centre for sustainability and trainingAthletics track and headquarters for children’s athletics in Northern UgandaCinema, Library and Training suiteVisitors Centre and AccommodationComputer Training Centre

The site will be powered through solar and will be a showpiece for renewable energy.


What is the Butterfly Project?

The Butterfly Project trains young people from village and slum areas to be changemakers, teaching them a range of subjects, to help them learn to be international citizens.  The aim is to help to find young people who can bring change and improved living standards to the most challenging parts of the country.

The school will play a very significant part in the Butterfly Project, providing a home for those children selected to become part of the project, a high quality educational institution, where they can learn the Ugandan school curriculum, a training centre for their training as social entrepreneurs and changemakers and a location where they can learn to manage their own social projects, working with local children and youth.

Members of the Butterfly Project will receive sponsored schooling (Monday to Friday) and our own specialist training (Saturdays).  The sponsorship money will go directly into our own school, not that of a third party improving consistency of teaching and pupil safeguarding.

Butterfly Project members are recruited independently each year, a three stage process, involving recommendations from schools in the chosen location, initial interviews and then a specialist academic testing process, to discover individual talents and ensure ability to handle the fast track Butterfly curriculum.  They would attend school alongside pupils recruited for the school who are not members of the Butterfly Project.                                                                               

Where is the development now?


Land acquired

6.5 acres in rural Omoro

Chrysalis Northern Headquarters - Shell complete, Roofing complete end October.  This building will be used as the location for activities offered to children living locally.  It will also provide many other local services.



3 x Classroom Blocks - Shell and roofing complete by end October.  Each block will contain two classrooms.  In 2021, the classes will be Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 (Arts), Year 5 (Sciences)

Bridge to site - The land purchased was quite remote and road access was across a stream and, to help facilitate the transport of the construction materials and, later when pupils arrive, a bridge was built across the river.





Planned for October

Athletics track - Chrysalis launched the Platinum Kids Athletics League with our partners in Kapchorwa, home to Stephen Kiprotich and Joshua Cheptegei.  Our youngsters in Omoro don't have anywhere to train and have significant talent, coming 4th in the competition last year and going home with many medals.  The secondary school is surrounded by many Primary schools and we expect the track to be very popular.


Model Farm -  We will be relocating our greenhouse in October and starting some new crops there.

Latrines - We will need to dig 7 separate latrines on-site.

Main buildings finishing - We plan to finish - plastering/plumbing/wiring and decorating all the buildings already constructed.

Preliminary Solar - We plan to implement a system for the Main Headquarters.

New buildings for which we are looking for support

Assembly Hall - £16,000 - this very large open building 26.7m x 12.2m will act as a kitchen and refectory during term-time, but will be used for drama and music performance as well.  The building can also house our regular Uganda Village Boardgame Convention, which we hope will occur during 2021

Staff Quarters - £9,300 - this building will house all of the teaching staff team - 8 members.  Our location is far from where most teachers live, so they will have to live on-site.  Staff will be able to participate in all evening and weekend activities on site and will be able to benefit from documentaries and other programmes that are shown.

Administration Block - £8,200 - This area will not just be a place where all records of pupils and staff are kept, but also will be an exhibition area for arts and crafts and and also a place for the social projects of the Butterfly Project members to be demonstrated.

Dormitories - £13,100 - A dormitory for girls and one for boys will be included on site.  At Chrysalis, though, we will also offer evening activities, such as documentaries, films and games.  We'll even have an athletics track for sports training.

Laboratories - £5,200 - Every Secondary School in Uganda must have both a Science and Computer Lab.  We are a strong believer in the importance of science in policy and decision-making, so for us this is a critical area, which we want many of our young people to be following careers in science.  In fact, our current construction controller is a student on vacation from studying Medicine at Kampala International University.  We expect there to be computers in the headquarters, Admin block, Evening Activities Centre, as well as the Computer Centre, since computers are non-optional in any modern society.  In addition we will teach students how to use their phones effectively and responsibly within our school time.  The chosen site has good access to internet.

Note all costs are for construction of the shell, roofing and finishing of the building.  Furnishing is not included.

Stretch Goals

Evening Activities Centre - £8511 - This building is most important to the culture of the school.  It will have a library, quiet room, a games room for board games and computing, as well as a video and TV Room, where social entrepreneurship training will take place. We expect a location such as this to have an effect on social skills, teamwork, as well as learning, for those staying at the site.  Chrysalis has a huge range of board games, mostly donated from individuals and games companies around the world.  We also have a projector and video library to show films to larger numbers of people.  We also expect this to be an arts and crafts room and workshop, where engineers can work on projects.

Sick Bay - £5426 - This year has been a horrific year for child mortality, as transport restrictions have left hundreds of families with no nearby health facility for illness or maternity needs.  Our hope is that the school will enhance and expand the local community and our school sick bay will become a local Children's Health Centre.  Bringing in a qualified medical practitioner will help safeguard the children staying on site, which is a major priority for us.  

Music Room - £3830 - Music is in the blood of the school founders, Rock School Founder Norton York and jazz pianist, Ben Parkinson.  The Chrysalis School will be one of very few schools in Uganda that will teach the Music curriculum.  This area will also be a music studio for recording and listening.  We hope that the school will attract some of the best musical talents in Uganda and we will be able to foster new musical expertise.

Head Teacher's Compound - £6383 - If we are unable to build a dedicated house initially, then the Head teacher can stay at the headquarters, however he or she will need a place to call his/her own in the near future, which is near to the Staff Quarters.

Full Solar - £29043 - Full solar will give us full flexibility for every building on the site, which is far from the grid.  It will also pump water from a bore hole or from harvested water.                        



Currently hundreds of local children in Lakwana Subcounty finish their education with Primary but when this school is built, they will now be able to move onto secondary.  Not only that, but the Chrysalis School will likely be the best-equipped secondary school in the District.

Omoro is the district where the War in Northern Uganda originated, not far from where our school is located in Odek subcounty.  Therefore it is one of the most disadvantaged parts of Northern Uganda, where there is great need of development.


There are a number of ways that the school will be supported moving forward:

1. The school will offer sponsored places to selected Butterfly Project members and also to talented athletes, academically-gifted, artistic or musical children from rural Northern Uganda.

2. Local people will pay school fees, though these will be kept affordable, to maximise intake locally

3.  We will develop crops at the site, using the greenhouse.  Also, the lower end of the land, which is near a stream is ideal for farming high quality crops.

4. In time we will develop the site as a place for Eco-tourism, where visitors can come to see Murchison Falls and tour Northern Uganda.  Project members will be guides.

5. The Boardgame Convention will be opened to outside visitors and will provide a unique gaming experience.

6. We will hire out the athletics track and land for special events, though it will be made available for children and youth to train whenever they wish to.


Chrysalis believes very strongly in empowering children from a very early age.  Our youth are delivering social projects in their early teens.  To achieve this we implement the Seven Interventions within the classroom and every teacher is trained to implement these important strategies:

*   PRAISE VS CRITICISM - 10 praises to one criticism.  No criticism without praise.

*  ENCOURAGE QUESTIONS - Asking questions promotes thoughtfulness

*  EVERY CHILD MATTERS - How do you recognise talents amongst children?  How do you ensure all reach their potential? 

*  TACKLING THE STEREOTYPING OF BOYS AND GIRLS - What can you do to reduce stereotyping? How can reduction bring about social change?

* PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT  SKILLS WHILE TEACHING - How can the classroom be used to reinforce ethical behaviour?  Encouraging a "can do approach"

* SCHOOL IS NOT ALL - Don't forget that learning is not restricted to the curriculum

* REMOVE FEAR FROM CLASSROOM - No child should fear a teacher. Teachers should not promote fear of them, instead respect


In addition, Chrysalis Uganda has been delivering its own projects:

1. The development of board games in Uganda, through the implementation of village-based board game clubs and the Uganda Village Boardgame Convention

2. The development of children's athletics in rural and urban areas throughout Uganda.

The Uganda Village Boardgame Convention was not possible this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions but we hope to be able to run it in future years.  The Convention brought international board games to rural children and encouraged them also to learn and play indigenous games    



This year, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we have had to adapt our plans and strategy.  Instead of training our youth at a central location, we have empowered them in their village locations, helping them with equipment, a means to communicate and helping them with advice how to run social projects at home.

In village areas hundreds of girls have been married off during this year, but our young Butterfly project members have been delivering activities to support girls forced into this situation, encouraging them to focus on their education.  We have used dance, drama, board games and athletics in the village areas, to bring about these initiatives.

In central Kampala, where children are at risk from criminal activities when idle, we have evolved the athletics club, run board games activities, cooking, but most importantly supported families that lost their job during the crisis by supporting them with essentials, such as food provisions, cooking oil and charcoal.

In Kampala, children have become listless and depressed, due to the lack of schooling and nothing else to occupy them, so our activities have helped ensure that children are kept informed of developments, always have something to look forward to and even have an organisation available to them to support them with illness and starvation.

Participating Organisations

CYEN - A UK Charity reg. 1158392 that supports the development of youth in Uganda - conduit for funding for the project

Chrysalis Uganda - a Ugandan “foreign” NGO reg. 13175 - Managing the project implementation in Uganda

PEAS Uganda - a UK international NGO helping deliver excellence in secondary school education.  We plan to work with them on a school inspection programme.

Abato Foundation - a Ugandan NGO, who have experience in building a school and whose founder was part of our teaching staff in the early part of the project.  Abato are already working on a secondary school build this year and are helping us build the school

Navigate Partners - a UK-based public relations consultancy, who will be visiting the project when possible and helping us raise any additional money that is required.  They are also helping us with developing a web-site, which will feature public information about the school project.


School Web-site:

Charity/NGO web-site:


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