Food for Thought

Article Index
Food for Thought
School Gardens Link-Up
Ugandan Young Farmers
Katente West Special Needs Unit
Programme Evaluation
School Gardening Competition 2013
Celebrating 10th anniversary 2011
Teaching resources
School linking work
New Build project
Teaching Phonics
Support Food for Thought
All Pages


Primary school project

One of the longest running and most successful DDE projects involving school linking between Devon primary schools and schools in three districts in Uganda.  The project is successfully teaching children about the importance of sustainable food production.

The key aims of the Food for Thought programme are to provide: 

  • A direct, positive link between pupil s and teachers in the link schools
  • A 'Window on the World' for pupils, beyond their schools, in both countries
  • Practical experience of growing food, with all schools in both countries running organic/sustainable food-growing school gardens
  • An education programme to enrich pupils' le arning experience in both countries

A crucial aspect of the programme is to give pupils in Uganda the skills to be able to feed themselves and their families using sustainable methods - and to make them proud of being farmers.

Food for Thought works in rural schools in the Mubende, Tororo and Gulu/Amuru Districts of Uganda – plus one special school in Kampala (the capital). The partner organisation in Uganda is the Kulika Charitable Trust, which has a very strong programme on sustainable agriculture and provides Key Farmer Trainers, small scale farmers trained in sustainable agriculture, to work with teachers and pupils in school gardens. This work is vital. Without good food-growing skills, these rural young people face an uncertain future. Key Farmer Trainers work in the schools at least one day each month for a period of three years and are paid £17 a day by Food for Thought. They train pupils with confidence because they have proved on their own farms that the methods work!

Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda's economy. Over 80% are farmers. Young people in rural communities have little choice but to work the land on leaving primary school. Food For Thought was established in 2001. In 2013, the programme was working with over 20,000 pupils in 45 schools in Uganda teaching them skills to be successful sustainable farmers, as well as providing a 'window on the world' through their links with schools in the UK.

For the linked schools in UK, the Food for Thought programme enhances their school curriculum in a variety of subjects including citizenship, PSHE, Science and Geography as well as literacy, DT, Art and Food Technology. 

The British Council 'Connecting Classrooms' Programme provides grants for projects between link schools, including funding for teachers to make exchange visits.


School Gardens Link-Up

picture 2 A one-year gardening project between schools in Devon and Uganda in conjunction with Growing Devon Schools Partnership (GDSP).




Ugandan Young Farmers

Ugandan Recipe Book Food For Thought Young Farmers Network have researched widely in cook books and on the web and selected these 10 traditional recipes. Authentic, traditional - but not original! (2MB file)

Moses, Mary, Sylivia, Fred, James, Noweline, Gabriel, Ruth, Paul, Grace – these are just some of the inspiring young people in Uganda, who have learned organic food-growing skills at school – and then applied them at home!

The impact has been some pocket money for themselves – and more and better food for their families!

We want to work with these young people, who are enthusiastic and have had some success at farming, to provide ways for them to learn more and develop new and better skills.

These young people and their classmates have had some training in organic food growing at school, as part of the Food For Thought School Linking Programme, run by Devon Development Education with Kulika Charitable Trust, Uganda. This scheme links primary schools in UK with remote, rural primary schools in Uganda, with a focus on FOOD – growing, harvesting, cooking, eating and recycling. The children in Ugandan schools receive training from a local expert, trained by Kulika as a ‘Key Farmer Trainer’.

The link also provides a ‘window on the world’ for children in both countries and opportunities for teachers to pay exchange visits (funded through DFID schemes).

Over the past 12 years, Food For Thought has linked 35 pairs of schools (about 24 are still active today) and interacted with about 20,000 primary school children and their teachers.

Did you know?

  • Uganda is about the same size as the UK
  • It has a population of 35 million (UK has 56m??)
  • 80% of the population are small scale farmers.
  • Primary education is free (after Uganda received some debt cancellation in 1997. Hurrah!)
  • But books and pens have to be provided by the child’s family, plus a school uniform, and lunch.
  • But, conditions in rural primary schools are usually poor, so up to 50% of primary school pupils in Mubende District drop out of education before they finish primary school. (District Education Officer, 2008??)
  • Only about 30% of pupils who complete primary education go on to secondary school


We want to set up a Young Farmers’ Network, for the older pupils, who may have grown too old for primary school or simply dropped out. This will be a 12 month pilot. The network will bring together a group of 20 ‘Young Farmers’ in Mubende District and 20 in Tororo District (aiming for 50% girls and boys), meeting at least one day each month.

We expect a farm belonging to a FFT Young Farmer to be aiming to have:

  1. In the home
    • A fuel-saving stove
    • A water tank or water jar, with guttering to feed it.
    • A proper latrine
    • A proper bathing area.
  2. In the garden:
    • Soil conservation measures
    • Water conservation measures
    • Contour ditches in place or planned
    • Tree planting for wood lot
    • Tree planting for shade
    • Fruit tree planting
    • Good food crops for home consumption
    • Some cash crops growing
  3. In the farm business:
    • Using book keeping methods, ie recording earnings and costs (Income and expenditure)
    • An understanding of how to choose which crops to grow and why (market supply and demand)
    • An understanding of marketing, ie how to sell the produce or cash crops.



Katente West - Special Needs Unit

The Need: The government of Uganda declared many years ago that Uganda’s education policy is to be inclusive; so that all children should attend school, including all children with special needs.  However it is the case that many special needs children do not attend school, and some schools can offer some support but perhaps not as much as is required. Unfortunately, no-one knows how many special needs children never attend school.

The proposal to build a residential unit with teaching area, for Special Needs children: It can be very difficult for special needs children to travel to school each day, so the proposal is to build a unit on the school compound so that the children can be residential, either weekly, monthly or termly.

Inside the building, first would be a common-room where children can have extra catch-up lessons or Braille lessons or other specific trainings, where they can do their homework, eat their meals and socialise.

Behind the common room would be 2 dormitories, one for girls and one for boys. Doors at the back of the dormitories would give access to washrooms and latrines, which are for the use of special needs children only.

October 2014 Newsletter  and details of the Ground Breaking Day for the new unit in August 2015.

September 2017 Update

Programe Evaluation 

Food for Thought has continued for over 12 years. The experiences and learning for pupils, teachers and the wider school communities have been many and varied! But friendship, openness and great hospitality have been experienced by all.

To try to evaluate some of the impact of the FFT programme, we carried out an evaluation in the UK and in Uganda in 2005 and then again in 2010. In Uganda, we engaged 2 lecturers from Gulu University to carry out the research. There was a time delay but finally a summary of the report is now available.

In June 2013, Keira Dymond, an MSc student from Exeter University, carried out research for her dissertation in the FFT schools. She was considering the FFT approach as a form of agricultural extension - through children and young people.

All reports concluded that the programme is effective and good value for money.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT PROGRAMME IN UGANDA: 2001 - 2005 External Evaluation Report

Summary of Food For Thought External Evaluation Report 2005 - 2012

MSc Dissertation To what extent can primary school agriculture help achieve effective agricultural extension? A case study on the Food for Thought programme in Uganda.



The 2013 Food for Thought Schools Gardening Competition 


This year's Food for Thought Schools Gardening Competition was judged and celebrated in two venues in July - one in Devon and one in Cornwall.

The children had a very enjoyable day and the quality of the exhibits was excellent. Here are some of the winning entrants:

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 DSCF9241 Custom DSCF9235 Custom DSCF9186 Custom DSCF9194 Custom

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In 2011 the Food For Thought School Linking Programme, linking schools in Devon with rural schools in Uganda, celebrated its 10th year! And a busy year it was!

Celebrations in the UK included a special service in Exeter Cathedral and an assembly outline for schools to use themselves.

Three training days were held at RHS Rosemoor for teachers, teaching assistants, parents or governors who work with children in the school gardens. These were very well supported and much appreciated. The leader was Alison Bockh, who teaches gardening full time at Yeo Valley, Barnstaple. 

In June, two days to celebrate World Food Day took place. One day was held on South Penquite Farm, Bodmin, in Cornwall with 170 children attending, the other held at Hannah's, Seale Hayne, Newton Abbot, in Devon with 80 children (plus lots of rain!). At each, children took part in a variety of activities. They made bag gardens, vertical 'grow bags', and planted them with young plants such as lettuces. They made tip-taps, a method of hand washing without touching the jerrycan of clean water, as used in Ugandan schools. There was story telling, a quiz about everyday Ugandan objects, making fires outdoors, designing and making Uganda-style walking sticks and craft-work with banana leaves and fibre. At Hannah's, there was also viewing of animals including goats, ducks, rabbits and donkeys. Everyone shared lunch and wrote on 'mango leaves' what they liked about Food For Thought.

Elijah Kyamuwendo, Chief Executive of partner organisation Kulika Charitable Trust

Elijah Kyamuwendo, Chief Executive of our partner organisation Kulika Charitable Trust, Uganda (who very sadly died after a short illness in 2012) and Beatrice Okumu, key Farmer Trainer in Tororo, Eastern Uganda, came to judge the school gardening competition in July. Beatrice judged the 6 schools in Cornwall and Elijah the 12 in Devon – success was celebrated at Prize Giving Days, one held in Upton Cross Primary School, Cornwall and the other at Alphington Primary School, Devon. All the entries were excellent, reflecting the effort put in by the children and adults.

Beatrice Okumu judging the school gardening competition

There were 6 categories in the competition. The winners for the whole garden were Upton Cross, Cornwall, and joint Topsham and Yeo Valley in Devon. The competition created a great deal of excitement and energy amongst the children, so we hope to repeat this next year, and encourage all the schools to join in.

In Uganda, political unrest caused the Children's Festival to be postponed at the last moment from May to August. Four pupils and a teacher from each of the 34 Food For Thought schools from 3 Districts of Uganda came together for a week in Kampala. They visited Parliament, the Wild Life Park (to see lions, giraffe, crocodiles and other wild animals which do not frequent their parts of the countryside these days), the airport and Garden City Shopping Centre. They held debates, danced, met and made friends with pupils from different parts of Uganda, from different ethnic groups, speaking English because their mother tongue languages are different. A very good time was had by all!

A Harvest Assembly for UK schools was produced which focuses on the life of Grace Awino, a girl in her final year at Okwira Primary School in Uganda, linked with St Teath in Cornwall.

World Food Week was celebrated in October, back at Kirume, one of the two original link schools. Training for garden teachers was held later in the year.

With all these activities, plus lots of visitors to and from the UK and Uganda, 2011, our birthday year, was a particularly good one!

fft_harvest_assemblythumb2011NEW RESOURCE! Grace's Story: Ideas for a Food for Thought Harvest Assembly.


An earlier Food for Thought ASSEMBLY RESOURCE is also available here for you to use.

A special primary assembly (PDF 583KB) celebrating 10 years of Food for Thought with an accompanying powerpoint slide show (PPT 3MB) 


English Phonic Teaching Manual 

FFT_boysSchool linking work

Two factors came together in 2007, leading to a new strand of teachers’ professional development within the Food For Thought School Linking Programme. 

 In July 2007, Jean Harrison, an education consultant, visited Food For Thought schools in Uganda to talk to teachers and find out how they felt about their work. The resulting Visit to Review Teacher Effectiveness in FFT Schools, Uganda report (PDF 245KB) recommended offering support to teachers in practical professional development.

 In November 2007, Devon County Council Children and Young People’s Services (CYPS) invited the Directors of Education (DEOs) from the three Districts of Uganda at that time involved in FFT to visit Devon to find out how education was organised here.  A ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ was signed and A Five Year Action Plan proposed. 

As a result, a one-week refresher course in basic teaching skills for 95 teachers and in school leadership for 18 head teachers, was held in May 2008, supported by UK facilitators, with follow up school visits by the Ugandan District Inspectors during the following 12 months. A report on the programme followed: Teachers’ Professional Development Programme 2008-9 Report on Refresher Course. Follow up visits showed that most teachers and head teachers felt they had applied their learning and that it was making a difference to their teaching and the children’s learning. 

During her visit to Devon, Mrs Benny Bugembe, DEO of Mubende, identified school-based and organised professional development for teachers, as a strategy which could be successfully applied to the Ugandan context where funding for training is extremely limited.  So a programme of ‘Lead Teachers’ was established in 2009-10 and 22 ‘Lead Teachers’ were identified by their schools to receive a week’s intensive training to equip them to support continuing professional development with their colleagues. The Teachers’ Professional Development Programme Phase 2 Report on Lead Teacher Training Programme 2009-10 report (PDF 735KB) details how the programme is proceeding

Jean Harrison has continued to work with Lead Teachers, when time allows. Unfortunately we were not able to secure any significant funding for this work. Jean wrote a report after her visit in June 2013.

During September 2014 Sue Errington visited schools and other projects in Mudende and Tororo.  

During September 2016 Sue Errington and Jean Harrison visited the newer 6-to-1 schools, the residential hostel at Katente West Primary School and several Young Farmers 

uganda_classroomThe New Build project

This is a Food For Thought School Building Project in Uganda. Since 2005 groups of British and Ugandan volunteers have been working with schools and their local communities to improve the schools’ buildings and infrastructure.

In 2005 The New Build ran a very successful project in Uganda. A group of 40 British students and young professionals worked to raise funds to construct workshops and classrooms for a new Vocational Training Centre attached to Keyo primary school, Gulu, northern Uganda. They raised over £15,000 through fundraising and 14 young people travelled to Gulu in July 2005 in order to help with the building work.

The New Build Project Report 2005 gives more information.

In the following years, New Build worked in Mubende schools.

In 2006, at Maaya Primary School as described in New Build Plan 2006.

In 2007, Tom Errington left his civil engineering job in Reading for 5 months and worked with the New Build Team building Kakenzi Primary School. This beautiful school is the pride of the District and a thriving local community has developed round it. Tom's individualistic report is here!

2008 saw New Build working in Kanowa and Kasaana Primary Schools as described in New Build Report 2008.

In 2009 New Build targetted clean water and sanitation in rural primary schools in Uganda. New Build Report 2009.

Funding from Happold Trust over a few years, enabled a Skills Transfer Programme to be developed benefitting young building apprentices in Mubende and engineering students at Exeter University. Skills Transfer Scheme 2009-10

2011 targetted a very remote primary school in Mubende called Kanyagoga. This work will be finished in 2014. New Build 2011 describes the project.

After 8 years of school building work, New Build is ending. The team always believed they were building for 50 to 100 years and we trust the buildings will meet that expectation and benefit many pupils.

A course on the teaching of English Phonics has been developed for Primary School Teachers in Uganda. A Teaching Handbook was prepared for the course.



FFT_carrotsThere are several ways to support Food for Thought and become involved.

Donate to Food For Thought NOW.
Click here
to donate securely through the Virgin Money Giving website or send cheques, made payable to 'Devon Development Education', to our postal address. This is what difference your donation could make:

  • £6 pays for two African hoes, for digging the school garden
  • £17 pays for the Key Farmer Trainer to work with the pupils for one month
  • £600 pays for one school to have a Key Farmer Trainer work with all the pupils for one year - and also pays for tools, seeds, fencing etc for the school food garden.
  • £1200 pays for a Food For Thought District Coordinator for one year, working one day per week.

Primary school education is now free in Uganda, following debt cancellation in the 1990s. Agriculture is back in the primary school curriculum. But many teachers have received very little practical training in farming - and very, very few know the importance of sustainable, organic growing, until they see the results!





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