Uphill Junior School started life in February 2011 as a privately owned charity kindergarten, founded and funded by Muhimbise Elius, a trained teacher, and his cousin Kukundakwe Patrick, a member of the Ugandan police. 

Parents and guardians of children at the kindergarten were so pleased with the quality of education being provided that they persuaded Elius to open a primary section to continue the children's progress. At the end of Primary 7 the children sit the Primary Leavers Examination - a national examination designed to be taken by all Ugandan school children at the end of the Primary phase of education.

Uphill Junior School has a clear administrative structure:

The School Director, Muhimbise Elius, is assisted by the Headteacher and guided by the School Management Committee which is made up of nine Elders from the community who are democratically elected by the parents. The Uphill Trust communicates directly with the School Director, who provides regular reports on the progress of the school plus a formal School Status Report on an annual basis.  Uphill Junior School currently employs 14 staff with teaching/administrative responsibilities. More information about the staff and a profile of the School Director can be found here.

Many of the children who attend the school are from poor rural families and, due to the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS in Uganda, a significant number are either orphans or from single parent families. 

Fees have been set by the School at nominal level - £7-8 per term for children with two parents, £3-4 per term for children from single parent families. Orphans and other severely disadvantaged children receive a free education. The fees collected by the school are used to:

  • provide local housing for the teachers
  • rent a two-room unit which serves as a secure school office 
  • buy the many sets of National Examination papers required to assess the children's progress throughout the school year
  • pay for foodstuffs and a cook to provide staff and some pupils with meals
  • boda fares for school officials to get into Fort Portal on school business

Now that The Uphill Trust is assisting with the teachers' salaries, the staffing levels for the school are more stable. The School Director is working with the Inspector of Schools to ensure that the quality of education, administration and record-keeping systems are meeting the required standards. The Community Development Officer for the local area is also providing guidance to the School Director.




The Uphill Trust (SC045385) is a small Scottish charity founded in January 2015 to support the work of Uphill Junior School. The Chairman of The Uphill Trust, Niall "Max" Macdonald, got to know the founders of the school whilst visiting the country to research his family history (his father had served with the Ugandan police before Independence).

Max first visited the school in October 2013 and was inspired both by the children and by the vision of the school Director and the struggle that he faced developing a school on rented land with very little funding. Personal donations were made by members of the Macdonald family following this visit.

By the time Max took his wife Belinda to visit the school in October 2014, both regular and lump sum contributions were being made by family members, by other well-wishers and by community groups in the UK.

The decision was made to set up The Uphill Trust to formalise and extend the fundraising needed to help this excellent little school to deliver reliable, high quality education to the children in this rural location. Maps showing the location of the village of Iruhuura can be found here.

The story of Max's rediscovery of his roots in Uganda can be found here. Further information about the trustees and their roles can be found here.

Uphill Trustees

N R L Macdonald (Chairman), B L Macdonald, H E S Laird, S A Macdonald, C J Macdonald; plus co-opted Committee Member, A I Smith

The Uphill Trust Logo  Copyright: Catriona Laird