A day in the life of Sister Judith Adilo

At a Catholic boarding school in Uganda, headstrong students defy the rules, dress in `modern' outfits and threaten to strike. But this RE teacher takes pride in setting them on the right path

I am a missionary sister with the Mary Mother of the Church institute in Lira, in northern Uganda. I teach history and Christian RE. During the insurgency in our region in the 2000s, I taught in war-ravaged areas, and my experiences trained me to work in difficult situations and cope with the challenges that are thrown at me.

My current teaching post is at Comboni College, a Catholic-founded boys' boarding school in Lira that accepts primary and secondary pupils. The Comboni missionaries founded the school to promote holistic education. Our motto is "education is life" and we value intellectual and moral learning.

My restful night's sleep ends at 5.30am, when I get up to prepare for the day. The morning begins with prayers in the convent from 6am to 7.10am - and then I find that I am in a race against time, as lessons start at 7.20am.

The marathon of the school day begins as soon as I arrive. I keep a close eye on students' punctuality, as well as the tidiness of their uniforms and their personal hygiene. They are often like goats without a shepherd, so I must keep watch over them to maintain order.

As well as leading Christian RE, I head up the guidance and counselling department. The insurgency left many children traumatised, with behavioural and emotional difficulties that require constant support.

Most students defy the ethical education we offer, claiming that it is outdated, particularly when we advise them to dress decently. They prefer to wear what they call "modern" outfits: tight trousers and shirts that show their body shapes. These are also reasons that they need the guidance and counselling I organise for them.

When I am not keeping track of the students, I produce schemes of work and lesson plans, take roll calls to check attendance and oversee the cleanliness of the classrooms, enlisting the school prefects to coordinate the work.

All my students are asked to carry out manual tasks such as digging holes and sweeping classrooms. Nearly all of them hate it and they even threaten to strike, but I believe that conditioning them in physical work is a valuable part of their education. When my guidance fails, however, I must enforce discipline. Parents are often brought in to counsel their sons, and this usually works well.

On top of these tasks, I work closely with slower learners to help them improve academically. I am forced to give them lots of assignments because they have very poor reading habits; I often have to supervise them during these assignments and offer private tuition.

My busy day leaves me exhausted, but a lingering joy and sense of fulfilment propels me to forge ahead. Undertaking this variety of activities binds me with students, parents, fellow teachers and the entire local community.

Your day

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