Budo, SMACK, Gayaza etal Stop digging your graves

All through his primary school studies, the young man had his eyes on Kings College Budo (herein referred to as Budo) as his school of choice for secondary education. His parents always reminded him that the only obstacle between him and Budo was obtaining Aggregate 4 in his Primary Leaving Examinations. He promised himself to get those grades and read like his whole world depended on it.

When the results came out, like the adage says, hard work pays, he had the required aggregate 4 to enter Budo as a star pupil. Celebrations ensued at his home with relatives, friends and neighbours congratulating him. His gait even changed to one befitting a Budonian (we all know how they be). After the school selections hat taken place, the young man wasn’t considered for a place at his most highly coveted school.


I know of pupils that got Aggregate 8 and above who have already secured admission

This led him to stage a campaign of defiance that has seen him refuse to leave the confines of Budo until he’s given a satisfactory reason why he wasn’t admitted.


Pupils at Buganda Road Primary School studying hard to join the much coveted traditional secondary schools like Budo, SMACK, Gayaza among others.

Reading that story in the Daily Monitor brought tears to my eyes. This is yet another injustice being meted upon the powerless. Having been born in a modest family without the trappings of political or economic power, the young man is being denied what is rightfully his. As anger welled up inside me, I recalled myself exactly thirty years ago, having passed with similar grades, I had chosen St Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK) as my first choice and without any underhand dealings, was duly selected to join the school. What is it that has changed between then and now?

Towards the end of the academic year, many school head teachers in the so called big name Church, Government and Private schools rub their palms with glee as they fathom the upcoming windfall of money that is likely to exchange hands as parents venture as far as the moon to ensure their children join these highly coveted schools. In an earlier post on this issue, I indicated how the few available places in some of these schools are already over subscribed by allocations dedicated to various interest groups. Let’s take Kings College Budo as an example, the interest groups I know of are; Church of Uganda, Buganda Kingdom, State House, Ministry of Education and the Old Students Association. Their lists of students are the first to be approved even before considering the genuine cases of high achievers. This is what must have led to the scenario of that young man.

As a result, Budo and schools of its kind have become hotspots for those with technical-know-who as well as the moneyed elite. Budo is what it is because of the one hundred plus years it has been around churning out highly brilliant merit laden students who have gone ahead to change this nation and the world we live in. By going against the ethos that has seen them select students on merit, they are merrily digging their own grave, albeit in the manner of a slow killing poison. I keep hearing some pedestrian commentators trying to chest thump asking where students of the lesser known schools are and which sectors of the economy they are managing but my assurance to you is that most of these lesser known schools are hardly two decades old and their graduates are probably at best 38 – 40 years old. Using the law of probabilities, one might need to wait another couple of years before you see them swamp the economy. Their numbers are growing slowly but surely.

Back to Budo, with all this injustice they are meting upon brilliant students in order to please the selfish desires of a few who do not care about the school’s long term survival, I guarantee you the grave being dug will definitel be more than six feet. An analysis of the overall performance of schools nationwide reveals that those in Western Uganda are catching up very fast and shall definitely overtake the traditional Central Uganda big guns within the next five to eight years. They are achieving this by concentrating on the core issues while taking advantage of not being under pressure. Take time and ask State House, Church of Uganda and the Ministry of Education how many lists they send to schools like Ntare in Western Uganda and you’ll be hard pressed to find any worth talking about. That very Ntare is however one of the leading schools today according to the metrics in place. Don’t you really think there is a sinister plot to swamp the school with more students than it can handle, hence leading to a poorer learning environment which eventually yields half baked graduates? Think about it.

Another trait of bad manners these high sounding traditional schools have come up with is financially burdening parents. Look at the case of SMACK that is requesting for UGX 500,000/= as Special Development Fees to each Senior One student joining on top of an already hefty school fees sum of UGX 1,900,000/=.


How is a low income parent expected to cope with such?

In Gayaza High School(Gayaza), a generator maintenance surcharge is required and a quick count indicates that the school can afford to buy a brand new generator each term at this rate. When will all this nonsense stop? Have parents been turned into cash cows? Should poor or modest family heads be made to slave away just to maintain a child in Gayaza?

The era of training 21st century students with a 20th century mindset has to cease. I am a proud old student of SMACK but one thing I can admit is that the prioritisation of quantity over quality has put me off totally to the extent that I wouldn’t recommend anyone with a radical mindset like mine to take their child to those traditional big guns. It is time they rethought their strategy otherwise today’s perceived minnows will eclipse them tomorrow when their products excel where it matters, THE WORK PLACE.

Are you a parent? Remember, it’s your actions among other factors that are greatly contributing to this nonsense going on in our schools. If you and me say NO to bribing for places, NO to seeking special consideration, NO to depriving legitimate qualified candidates a place, NO to paying incomprehensible extra fees, NO to grilling our children merely to pass exams, NO to high teacher to student ratios, then we shall have begun our journey of making Uganda’s education system great again. Let’s fight from within.

To the student and parent that have staged a sit down strike at Kings College Buddo, thank you for that stand of defiance. I’m with you 100%. You’ve kindled the light that just might lead to a tsunami whose wake of destruction might actually save our schools from heading into oblivion.

In Bunyole, we have a proverb, “esoŋera ehugwa mwibwa nj’ehwenda (The fly that lands on your wound is the one that loves you)“.

To the likes of Budo, SMACK, Gayaza, Namagunga, Namilyango among others, I may be that fly today, irritating you with my dooms day talk but take it from me, if you don’t wake up, a decade from now, you’ll be history. It’s because I pride in your continued existence that I have taken time off to share my observations.


A blog reader who prefers to remain anonymous did contribute this article titled “Is Uganda’s Education System going to the dogs?” Read on, interesting analysis they’ve got.

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

27 responses to “Budo, SMACK, Gayaza etal Stop digging your graves

  1. Pingback: SMACK, Namilyango, Gayaza, Lubaale Mubbe | The Wire Perspective

  2. Don’t Havard and Cambridge and Oxford engage in similar activities???


    • Please tell us more including how thy do it.


    • Actually they do hence they admit celebrities or “someones”, why do you think they have selection committees, otherwise a computer system can be designed to do the selections if based on grades. Wake up this is the world we live in. Limited resources, survival for the best and above all, ” all animals are not equal.”


      • Guess it’s time to wake up. Have you heard of the case in one of the schools I talked about where an HM created an entirely new stream where all admitted students were paying money straight to his coffers? In another, the HM declares less students than those admitted!! Do the Harvards also operate like that?

        I think there is a scam going on and we are just falling for it fwaaaa. Actually I prefer if the schools come out openly and tell us their approach to admissions so that the public can manage its expectations


      • First off sir, I had not heard, now I have. It all depends, one if he owns the school and parents are okay with that I see no fault, economics 101 or should I say 311. Second, i thought we were focusing on the academically prestigious special interest kill for school. Anyone is free to build a school and charge as he or she wishes, chickens, goats, rats you name it. Your school your rules. With the prestigious schools, the board and OB’s have and should keep a great say in what happens. These are the people that contribute in most cases financially to keep these schools relevant structure wise and discipline wise. I do not hear you complaing about OB’s or parents that contribute huge amounts, construct entire buildings. There has to be a balance, your very smart merit students whose parents might not be as financially blessed appreciate the presence of these children whose parents donate the much needed assets to enable their smart children to keep stepping. FYI those same smart children end up being hired in the already established family entities that the donors built and this way everyone is kept happy. Do not forget bad as it sounds, in this world most times what you know does not take you far with out a ” who you know,” and yes, every where in the world, 1st or 3 Rd world. More so in the 1st world. Food for thought, under 10% of the richest people in the USA own 99% of everything. Yes wake up and stop the wishful thinking face reality.

        Liked by 1 person

      • FYI, the schools am referring to are not private schools. I agree the pvt ones can do as they will. My concern is on clarity of issues/admission. Just like you have said it openly, can we have these non private and even government funded schools come up and say it like you have said it? Maybe the expectations of the public will be managed going forward. Truth is, someone is benefitting from all this lack of clarity.


      • Lol, easier said than done, we all know it, those parents know it too, who is the public? More like I would say this would refer to people with children because then they have an interest in the matter and should do the necessary research if it means that much to them. It all boils down to the relative maturity of the masses. Those ignoring the facts know them but just try to ignore them. I will give in a case study, democracy in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt… Democracy is a good thing but the atmosphere has to be studied before trying to apply other wise it is from the pan to the fire. People will get fired up over anything but the issue is are the steps taken going to solve the problem or make it worse. Your approach would have every student with a 4 in PLE believe it is their right to go to their first choice school. Can not happen even in the perfect world. We say it goes your way, then you will have all these great schools destroyed structure wise and funding wise because then all the parents believe they owe nothing to the school, they earned their position. soon our great schools will not be great any more. Majority is not always right just remember that. Some moves have to be made to ensure the survival of the great.


      • Great schools indeed !!!! #LivingInThePast


  3. Pingback: Has Uganda’s Education system gone to the dogs? #GuestPost | The Wire Perspective

  4. I believe he also missed the clip on social media in which a kitende student records one of their teachers passing on the stardand exam and answers before the official exam taking. How well these good students of your perform once in law school.


  5. Francis wakabi

    How can one take part in a discussion with such snobs!!!


  6. ochieng Gabriel

    from your heading,at first I thought u had an important matter to tell us in relation to the stiff competition traditional schools are currently facing from their private counterparts but instead, I found out that you are just another snobbish fellow who wants to show the whole world that you attended one of the elite schools in this country. Let me tell u this…the only way traditional schools can dig their own graves is when they decline academically and not because of the misfortunes of one kid in an isolated incident! Budo will not collapse bcoz u have reported to the world that they admit children of connected people first. It will instead get more respect. But i dare you, if budo or smack or namilyango succumb to the competition from private schools, that will mark the beginning of their end! Ask Mwirians and Butikians.


  7. Solomon Ainomugisha

    Namilyango is though still flying high with registered 12 students with 8 in 8. It cherishes the fact of self education n not who knows who.

    Budo n smack, use namilyango as an example


  8. daniel ligyalingi

    Well said my brother James.


    • Well said James. It is education for responsibility, I believe the school have the right to admit on merit and interest at the same time otherwise who will develop and take care of the school. Well if that child had been the best performer in the country and denied then he might have an issue. This is not completely government funded education and the schools have to look out for their own interests to survive. Loyalty is better than anything. This is done even in the best schools worldwide, either you are some one or one of the smartest.


  9. Obviously you did not go to Budo so you wouldnt understand. Education at Budo is not about aggregate 4 or 8. It is about who you are. It is our school and it is there for our interests. Go and build your own school for aggregate 4.


    • And SMACK? Nabisunsa? Namilyango?


    • ochieng Gabriel

      Assure him of that. I agree with u totally but perhaps the only problem with Budo is the the declining academic standards. No student in Budo scored aggregate 8 in 8 in #UCE2016! For a school of budo’s stature, that is not only shocking but also very perturbing! In fact, according to the Daily Monitor research, there are students who joined Budo with agggregate 4 in PLE but scored 2nd grade in S4! This trend is very worrying for Budo’s future.


    • Old Budonian, ” Sigala ku mulamwa” . It is not about who went where or this is our school or not !!!! Spare the sarcasm for another forum. The issue is about how modest parents struggle to have their kids admitted to top schools especially with increasing bribery.


  10. I think you write well about the problem but a bigger and looming problem is the glorification of final results. Let me tell you how dangerous this is, it brings about extreme anxiety, let alone some one failing to make it to the examination on time or falling sick etc!

    Cram work not withstanding, schools should, or better still the responsible authority, shift the way in which our youth study and get examined. It’s time to focus on making the pupil/student understand the subject fully for example why they are studying the subject, the benefits of the subject and how it is applied in real life.

    Assessments should be continuous my radical thinking would put continuous assessment at 50% or more and let the final examinations account for the rest… I really feel this whole 4 pass thing is cram work and very misleading. Even more misleading when a student in the “good traditional schools” have access to teachers and learning materials and others have access to peer support.

    How do you differentiate a 4 from Budo to a 4 from City High and so forth… We are losing it here, while some of the more developed countries are reducing study hours at some levels we are increasing them. Now a parent with school going children will wake up at 4:30 or 5:00am and sleep at God knows what time…

    Anyway and lastly to parents not every one is designed for sciences or arts, or even academics, we need to understand this from the first day your child is born otherwise you will die of stress …. my two cents!

    Inspire your self read this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Finland



  11. well said sebo, am with you on this . Money other than quality education has taken centre stage. The brilliant poor are being denied the opportunity to join schools of their choice!! The rich daft students have continued to pay teachers in exchange for good marks something that never happened in our days! Sic


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