Tag Archives: school

Do you have a PLE candidate? Decide on the next school now


Every January and February of each year, I witness parents running around like headless chicken trying to get their children into secondary schools. This is the time when head teachers, staff and members of school management boards make a killing being bribed for places in the schools. It is common to find a parent parting with UGX 4 Million (USD 1,100) just to get a place for their son/daughter only to pay official school fees of slightly under that amount.

As a parent, I thought I would share some advice on how to go about this process. By the time your child has hit 12 years and is a candidate for PLE, I expect any serious parent to have studied them well enough by now to know who they are, what they like or dislike and what kind of gifts they have. It doesn’t matter whether your child has been in a boarding primary school, the onus is upon us parents to bond with these children.

When you know your child well or fairly enough, then comes the next stage of identifying which academic institution would holistically bring up your child not only academically well but also boost her/his God given skills. If a child is talented in swimming, you have no business insisting on them going to a secondary school that does not offer swimming facilities simply because they shall be spending most of their time at school i.e. 8 months of the year. How do you expect them to excel in their gift when they only utilise the short holiday to practise? This analogy applies to other sports disciplines as well as extra curricula activities like drama, farming, entrepreneurship among others.

I know most parents are tuned to largely two things;

  1. A school that will make the child score distinctions so that they can be the best academically in the country (This is why some schools have chosen the shorter path of cheating for the students in order to achieve this goal)

  2. A school that can be regarded as having the Who is Who !! They want to see their children hobnobbing with ministers’ children or partaking of a family legacy (my grand father, father and now me all went to school X)

If your inclination is in line with what I just stated above, it’s also ok. Feel free to pursue that line. However, I do believe that the best option would to carefully scan the options around before setting on a secondary school.

Set up a check list to be followed so that you do not bias yourself while undertaking the study. The checklist may include some or all of the following questions;

  • What talents does your child possess?

  • What kind of learning environment does the school provide?

  • How much contact time is the child likely to have with the teachers? (There are schools where a stream has 100 students, that definitely offers little or no contact time for most students)

  • What pillars is the school built upon? (Is it religious ie Moslem, Christian etc or Sports or Drama all the way to ethical considerations)

  • What do current students say about the school?

  • What is the school fees structure?

  • What level of extra curricular activities is provided?

  • How can the school shape your child into the person you want the to be in future? (Starts with knowing your child)

  • You can add onto this list ….

Using this checklist, take a tour of different schools (invest time in this process, do not rely on recommendations from buddies in pubs). Assess them by talking to the different parties concerned.

When you follow such a methodical approach especially with a good headstart, you’re less likely to gravitate like a headless chicken when the time comes. Infact, you shall discover that the mindset you had prior to this exercise has been debunked.

Start now to plan for your child’s next school. You will be glad that you did so.

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant

Twitter: @wirejames

Email: lunghabo (at) gmail (dot) com

SMACK, Namilyango, Gayaza, Lubaale Mubbe


There is a Luganda saying that goes like, “Bakuuma mbugo, Lubaale mubbe.” Its nearest English equivalent is, “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.”

This saying is purported to have been coined during the time of Kabaka Jjunju (1780 – 1797). Baganda families had gods they worshipped to suit different needs in their lives. Each family had a select member who was in charge of keeping these gods. It was a prestigious role that many envied. These gods apparently were “kept” wrapped up in bark cloth (mbugo). Due to one reason or another, these gods could be stolen or misused by a member of the family or someone else who had the ability to “steal” them. So, while the guardian of the gods thought that he had them in safe custody on behalf of the family, the opposite would be the case. The gods were already stolen and he was just keeping bark cloth. Hence the saying which is loosely translated as, “They are keeping bark cloth, the gods were stolen.

A while back, I wrote an article warning the traditional giant schools in the form of Namilyango, SMACK, Buddo, Gayaza etal that they were digging their own graves. Alot of criticism was directed at me including allegations that I was a hater among other flimsy pedestrian conclusions. Today, I came across the list of admissions for the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Makerere University, government sponsored and it read as follows:

No.

School

Number of Students

1

St. Mary’s Kitende

13

2

Uganda Martyrs Namugongo

12

3

Bishop Kihangire

5

4

Kiira College

4

5

St. Mary’s Namagunga

4

6

Kings College Buddo

4

7

Seeta High Main

3

8

Naalya Main

3

9

Mengo SSS

2

10

St. Julian

2

11

Gombe SS

2

12

Nabisunsa Girls

2

13

St. Mary’s Ruhoroza

2

14

Ntare School

1

15

Mbarara High

1

16

Seroma Christian High School

1

17

Seeta High Mukono

1

18

Ndejje

1

19

Gayaza

1

Namilyango College

00

St. Mary’s College Kisubi

00

The government scholarship admission for this same degree for those that joined Makerere University in 1993 had at least Ten (10) guys from St. Mary’s College Kisubi. It was basically an extension of old students from either Namagunga, Gayaza, SMACK, Buddo, Namilyango, Mwiri and a few other schools like Makerere College.

It is shocking to find that in 2017, Gayaza was just lucky to get only One (1) candidate on state sponsorship while SMACK and Namilyango contribute zero (0) students for this course. This is an abomination and a fulfillment of what I did warn a while back.

In a scathing article that I wrote on the traditional schools, I stated thus, “… 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 …

If there is one thing that defines old students of the traditional high performing schools, it’s the pride we exude as having been part of an elite class as well as littering the professions that are deemed to matter in the world of employment. While I am proud of the fact that I can walk into any office in this land and find someone I know as an OB or OG of sorts, I must say, the writing is on the wall for the traditional schools. Having taken for granted this superiority, they gave room to the minnows to work their way upwards and eclipse them.

I did come across an argument on Facebook where those allied to the traditional schools were busy bashing old students from St Mary’s Kitende claiming that the best they can do is to operate photocopiers in the various city shopping arcades. The results I just shared should be a wake up call, the Kitendes you have been underlooking are annexing every inch of land that you had been taking for granted as a birth right for over a century. First they swept the arts courses, now they are on an onslaught for sciences.

Traditional schools have always given their students this aura of invincibility and entitlement making them feel like royals of sorts. Unfortunately, in reality, like the luganda saying I quoted earlier, apart from the structures and historical legacies they have, these traditional schools seem to have nothing to offer lately. Lubaale Mubbe !!!!! Wake up guys.

I consider this a critical moment for the traditional schools. Over the past twenty something years, they have digressed from working towards the set founding goals of their institutions and instead opted to play to the gallery. By abandoning the core values they represented including sticking to the recommended admission procedures, they fell into the trap of populism. Matters were worsened when bribery became the norm. I know of someone whose son was not certain of getting to Kings College Buddo for Senior One and this led him to execute plan B which was SMACK where he got a place after parting with UGX 4 Million. Today he is happy and chest thumping that he has a child at SMACK but I want to remind him that, Lubaale Mubbe.

At A-Level, these traditional schools admit star studded students who do not even need the slightest push to excel. How the hell can you tell me that they can fail to convert them into nationwide leading performers at the University entry exams? It means that either the children that are admitted have falsified results or the teachers responsible for teaching them are sleeping on duty. Lubaale Mubbe.

The traditional schools in a bid to play to the gallery have opted to compete on the same terms as the private schools that are fast rising. They forget that what they were set out to offer is more than just good grades in class. They fail to impress this need upon the aspiring students or parents and instead lure them with the promise of high grades. If it is grades that one is pursuing solely, then they can no longer compete with many private schools that seem to have mastered the art of churning out good grades. However, if they can look inwardly and come up with a revised offer which has a linkage with the vision of the founders, they will retain a lot of relevance despite not churning out high grades academically. After all, we all know that success in life is not necessarily directly proportional to the grades scored in school.

As for King’s College Buddo and St. Mary’s Namagunga, with 4 a piece heading for the Medicine class, I don’t encourage you to chest thump. It is a sign that you too are slowly descending to the place where Namilyango and SMACK have already bought plots of land, Zero (0) contribution.

Time for change. To effect this change, there is going to have to be a total overhaul of the mindsets starting right from the Board Members of the Schools, School Administrations, Old Students Associations, Students and Parents. Otherwise, Bye Bye SMACK, Namilyango, Gayaza; Welcome St. Mary’s Kitende and Uganda Martyrs Namugongo.

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda

Follow @wirejames on Twitter.

Email lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com

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