400th Anniversary of the founding of the five Royal Schools in Ulster in 2008
A lot of activites took place to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the five Royal Schools in Ulster in 2008. Collectively our own, the Royal School Cavan, Dungannon, Portora and Armagh Royal were founded by Royal Charter of King James I in 1608. As a joint venture between the five schools, it is planned to mark the quatercentenary with a series of special events. A history of the five schools will be published. A service of Thanksgiving and Celebration will be held. Sporting and cultural events will bring pupils, staff and parents together. Historical lectures and displays are planned. The celebration of the 400th anniversary represents a unique and high profile cross-border opportunity to focus on the history of the five schools, which share an initial foundation in time and to enhance links between them.
A Royal School in Uganda
The 1609 Royal schools committee were keen to build on the past and commemorate the 400th anniversary by helping to develop another Royal school in a disadvantaged area of the world. Approaches were made to the organisation Fields of Life. It is a registered charitable organisation which has extensive experience, having founded over ninety schools in East Africa. A very attractive feature of this charity is that only 5% of funds raised are spent on overheads and administrative expenses. Details of the work of Fields of Life can be found on its website www.fieldsoflife.com. Its mission statement reads as follows:
“Fields of life is committed to changing lives and building sustainable communities in East Africa through teaching the Christian faith and through the provision of quality education, health care and income generating projects.”
Rev. Trevor Stevenson
The CEO of Fields of Life, Rev. Trevor Stevenson, formerly a dairy farmer from South Co. Dublin whose farm was bisected by the M50 Motorway, has spoken to the 1608 Committee about its work.
In September, members of the Board of Management, the Past-Pupils’ and Parents’ Association Committees and members of staff were invited to a meeting addressed by Rev. Trevor Stevenson where details of the project were given. The following day, Rev. Trevor Stevenson spoke to each year group of students. He then spoke to members of Lifford/Strabane Rotary Club at their monthly luncheon in the Fir Trees Hotel. Past-Pupil, Mr. Kenny Rutherford is currently President of the Club and has very kindly agreed to contribute funds raised to this project.
€35,000 A small amount of money can go a long way towards building a secondary school in Uganda. The cost of constructing a secondary school classroom block with four fully equipped classrooms is currently €35,000. Here in Ireland building one classroom would be in the region of four times that cost.
At present all children in Uganda do not receive primary education and of those who do, only 40% proceed to secondary school. Hundreds of thousands of Uganda children, from poverty stricken homes and many who are orphans of the killer disease AIDS, are without secondary education. They have little hope for the future and large numbers of children will probably end up in the streets begging or turn to prostitution as a way out of the poverty trap. For them, an education is literally a chance for survival; a lifeline where they will get an opportunity to fend for themselves and contribute to their nation’s much needed development.
Once the Royal School is established by the five Royal Schools, the Ugandan Government will fund the salaries of teachers. The goal of Fields of Life is to work towards self-sufficiency and self sustainability. All that is needed in this instance is an initial injection of outside capital to kick-start the project.
Some local fundraising events have already taken place and there has been a very good response to them:
In May 2009 Royal and Prior students and staff took part in running sponsored relays in the Belfast City Marathon and raised €2,030.
In October, a staff tea/coffee morning organised by Deputy Principal, Mrs. J. Curran raised €350. 10% of the funds from the 2009 Sponsored Walk will go to this project. Lifford/Strabane Rotary Club have contributed €1,000. The family of the late Mr. T.A. Morrow requested donations in lieu of flowers for this project. In December, there was a Bring and Buy Sale in Dunfanaghy Parish Hall organised by a boarder parent, Mrs. C Wasson. This raised €1,600.
The collections at the Past-pupils and School Carol Services were for the Ugandan Royal School project. To date the contribution from the Royal and prior has amounted to € 10, 391.
The Royal School of Nakasongola
Fields of life earmarked Nakasongola in Uganda as a suitable location for the ‘sixth Royal school’. This area has two primary schools but the region has only one secondary school and many students cannot attend because of the long distances involved. The local community and the leaders of the local council have wanted a secondary school in this area for a long time. The total cost for the completion of the school will be around €250,000. Thanks to fundraising by the five Royal schools and outside investors some classrooms have already been built and the first 122 students are no enrolled having begun classes in February. It is estimated that over 1,000 pupils will be accommodated once all buildings are in place. The response to date has been very encouraging. Thanks to all concerned for their great generosity.
Queen visited to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the five Royal Schools
The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, was guest of honour today at a reception in The Royal School Armagh held to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the five Royal Schools of Ulster.
To celebrate their foundation the five schools, The Royal School Armagh, Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, The Royal School Dungannon, Cavan Royal School, and The Royal and Prior School Raphoe have joined together in a unique cross-border initiative and formed a separate company known as “The 1608 Royal Schools” to focus on their histories.
Stuart Deane from the Royal and Prior School Raphoe presented the Queen with a book on the history of the five Royal schools.