The Jinja Educational Trust aims to improve the education, training and welfare of young people in Uganda so they can go on to acquire the necessary skills for a successful and fulfilling life.

Education in Uganda is highly valued with both teachers and students working hard to achieve the best they can. However, school buildings and equipment are often little more than wooden shacks and a stick of chalk. Through building high-quality schools and making sure they are well equipped and staffed, we aim to be an example of best practice that other schools in the Jinja area can aspire to. The JET Education Programme enables students to achieve their full potential, whether it is through an academic or a vocational route.

We work in partnership with UK teaching and medical advisers and the local community to ensure the projects supported by the Trust make a positive and lasting impact that is sustainable for the future. In recognition of the vital link between education and health, we launched the JET Health Programme in October 2019. Providing clean water facilities and nutrition is paramount in ensuring a higher standard of student health which in turn improves school attendance and performance.

With many years’ experience working in the Jinja District and beyond, we have developed a successful model that has a visible impact and consistently delivers results. It is run by a team of trustees based in the UK. From the UK and resident in Jinja, the JET Country Manager, Lorna (Scroll down to read full bio) leads a strong and proactive local team. The Trustees visit Jinja regularly and have constant contact with the Country Manager. This enables us to monitor projects on a regular basis and to identify potential new ones. Fundraising is a major part of our work and we hold events to raise awareness and financial assistance. We are extremely grateful to our hugely supportive network of schools, businesses, sponsors and volunteers. Without them, we would not be able to provide ongoing support for everyone in our schools and children’s homes. It is vital that we are able to offer continuity to these vulnerable young people, and that they can rely on us to provide the support they so desperately need.

As trustees of the Jinja Educational Trust we have all traveled to Uganda very many times over the past few years. We meet regularly to discuss the best way to support the projects and to identify new ones. We are all volunteers and all our trips are self-funded.

Jon Symonds, Chairman

Jon has many years’ experience in the corporate world and in particular in the pharmaceutical industry having been CFO of AstraZeneca and Novartis.

Sue Symonds

Sue and Tessa are responsible for the day to day running of the Trust and the fundraising. They travel to Jinja the most frequently and keep in touch with our supporters in the UK and the projects in Jinja.

Tessa Douch

Sue and Tessa are responsible for the day to day running of the Trust and the fundraising. They travel to Jinja the most frequently and keep in touch with our supporters in the UK and the projects in Jinja.

Sally Funnell

Sally is a teacher, specialising in Early Years education. She has taken teaching groups out to Jinja and coordinates the teaching support we offer in Jinja.

Dr Hamish Cameron

Hamish is a doctor who has been working with local medical and healthcare practitioners to improve the care and wellbeing of the children in our schools and children’s homes.

Jacqui Onslow

Jacqui is a senior school textiles and food technology teacher who oversees the vocational and senior school education of our schools in Jinja.

Lorna Barker

With a background as a project manager in energy trading, Lorna decided to switch from corporate life to a development focus and from Europe to Africa. She then spent a few years designing and implementing education and health programmes in Zambia before moving from Lusaka to Jinja to join JET as Country Manager in July 2019.

With a hands-on, people-centred approach, Lorna enjoys the challenge of combining the management of daily operations with a longer term strategic outlook. She is keen to strengthen and grow the organisation as well as develop the local team in Uganda. “I have a deep-rooted desire to see all children, regardless of where they are and no matter what their background is, have a chance to go to school. It’s definitely passion that drives me forward and makes the whole team perform to the best of our ability. We all work together as a wonderfully cohesive unit towards the provision of quality education in every JET school.”

The multiple issues created by the Corona crisis on both a local and international level were seen by many purely as an obstacle to achieving goals. Instead, Lorna saw the situation as an opportunity to take stock and consider new ways of working. “It’s important to see the positives wherever possible and if necessary dig deep to find them. In 2020, our teachers and children needed us more than ever and I’m proud of how the team rose to the challenge of providing them with all the support we could. It’s been an exciting time too: creativity can come from crisis and I’m looking very much to our long term future now.”

Nelly Aleto

Nelly has been JET’s Education Manager since 2014 and joined JET a year before that. Her principal role is to oversee the successful running of the JET Education Programme in all our schools. With support from a team of experienced teachers in UK who visit Uganda regularly, Nelly plans, implements and oversees teacher training in JET schools and at the Resource Centre. JET understands the huge importance of building a solid foundation in the often neglected area of Early Childhood Development so we work closely with our nursery class teachers to develop Maths and phonics skills in our children from the start of their time in school. Having done a great deal of work at ECD level, Nelly is now able to focus more on developing the knowledge and skills of our primary level teachers.

“Growing up in an orphanage, the future was so uncertain, like I know it is for the children we work with in the poorer communities and children’s homes: you have to fight to find your voice and purpose in the community but that dream becomes clearer with education. We were always taught to dream big and work hard in school then we can be whatever we want to be. With the right resources and support of course, this theory is spot on. I believe that with enough support, determination and dreams, you can be whatever you want to be. I am a graduate and pursuing a master’s degree. Education has given me a platform and voice to go and meet different people I would have not had a chance to. It has given me purpose. I am so passionate doing the work I do with JET because JET not only provides the support I need but also provides the right resources so that our children have a chance to find that purpose, to find that dream and to find that voice. I am so happy to be a part of all this.”

Ezra Muyinda

Ezra joined JET as our Resource Centre Manager in January 2018. Assisted by a librarian, he is responsible for the smooth running of the Centre’s daily operations, ensuring training and other activities all take place as planned. Ezra manages the JET Examination Board as well as teaching IT and holding other training sessions for Resource Centre users. A gifted artist, he puts his talents to use designing and drawing motivational educational images and messages on the walls of our classrooms and other facilities.

Ezra lost his mother when he was only a year old and later moved to USA with his African American stepmother where he spent his childhood years before relocating back to Uganda where he’s now happily married with a baby daughter. “My exposure to two different world cultures was a great advantage for me. It taught me how to easily blend in and adapt to any environment. I got my certification of IT from Bethel Training Institute and later pursued a diploma in IT with Atlantic International University online. Due to my love and desire for learning, I am still working on expanding my IT knowledge.”

Ezra says his heart is fulfilled by working in an educational environment where he can develop his talents. “I enjoy working at organizations that make a difference in other’s lives, so am thrilled to be part of the JET staff and to help JET further its mission to bring quality education to as many children as possible.”

Teacher T

You might ask: ”Why Teacher T?” And T will tell you: “well, T is for Taubah and some find that a bit difficult to pronounce!”
Teacher T has been JET’s Early Learners Assessment Manager since 2018. Before that she was teaching in our Homework Club at SonRise Children’s Home so she’s been with JET for many years. She’s mainly occupied with assessing our nursery pupils’ skills in subjects like phonics, Maths and writing and running our team of assessment teachers, while also guiding and training our ECD teachers.

Married and a mother to four, Teacher T grew up with her single mum and four brothers. “Life was not easy. Mum is a farmer and had too little money to put all of us through school so I had to stop in early secondary. I later did a certificate in nursery teaching. I really love children so I’m very grateful my position with JET has given me the opportunity to work and share my time with so many of them!”

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