Tree planting in schools has many advantages. In the case of Kolonyi Primary School in Mbale, Uganda, trees have become an important shield from extreme weather.
In the middle of a normal school day in 2011, a spate of heavy winds unexpectedly blew the roof off a classroom as children played during a lunch break. Unfortunately, several children sustained injuries and the school roof needed replacing.
Yusuf Makabuli, a project officer who works for a local tree-growing organisation called Salem was present at the time. Salem is one of four local organisations that provide trees to communities as part of the Mbale Trees Programme overseen by the Mount Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise.
To protect the school and its pupils from similar incidents, Yusuf advised the school to plant indigenous tree species along its boundaries to act as a windbreak. He also advised the planting of fruit trees among these such as mangoes and jackfruit which also provide nutrition and sustenance during the school day.
Since then, Kolonyi Primary School has planted over 5,000 trees and are reaping the rewards they bring.
The classroom block roof was replaced by good samaritans when the rain blew it off in 2011.
The school’s head teacher, Joy Mulerengi says:
We have planted trees given to us by Salem-Uganda and indeed they have acted as windbreaks to the strong winds and heavy storms. We have planted some fruit trees like mangoes and jackfruit. A pupil who has not carried something to eat at break time, may have a mango or jackfruit to eat.
We are thankful to METGE and the implementing partner Salem Uganda for the job well done to provide free tree seedlings to plant. We have sometimes used the trees for shade and conduct classes. Not because we do not have enough classrooms, but we sometimes want to enjoy the fresh air outside the classroom and the learners enjoy it.
Video: Pupils from Kolonyi Primary School explain how to plant a tree.
Tree planting in schools is a key part of the Mbale Trees Programme. The case of Kolonyi school shows how trees don’t just act as a barrier against heavy winds but become a source of pride for the school community.