Tag Archives: school

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:



Number of Students


St. Mary’s Kitende



Uganda Martyrs Namugongo



Bishop Kihangire



Kiira College



St. Mary’s Namagunga



Kings College Buddo



Seeta High Main



Naalya Main



Mengo SSS



St. Julian



Gombe SS



Nabisunsa Girls



St. Mary’s Ruhoroza



Ntare School



Mbarara High



Seroma Christian High School



Seeta High Mukono








Namilyango College


St. Mary’s College Kisubi


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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Failure, the Entrepreneur’s friend

The folks at Dictionary.com define failure as; “non performance of something due, required or expected.

From the time we are born, directly or indirectly the world throws at us the notion that to fail is a bad thing. When a baby fails to walk within the prescribed time, parents aren’t happy and are often heard saying “My child has still failed to walk.” When you start nursery school studies and can’t quickly get a hang of writing numbers, reading stories or drawing and colouring, right from the teachers to the parents it’s deemed as failure and often calls for “extra lessons.” When a child fails to get the passmark that enables them join a particular school for Primary or Secondary Level Studies, parents get disappointed and deem it failure. Recently, I read in an Agony column about a parent who was beating up his child and continuously ridiculing him for failing to pass the Primary Leaving Exams with good grades thereby embarrassing the family and exposing it to ridicule. The story goes on and on.

Such negative talk and experiences with failure builds an impression in our lives that ‘you either make it or make it.‘ The demonisation of failure has had the effect of stopping many dead in their tracks hence not fulfilling their potential. When Select Garments, a company that was known for selling Gents suits over the years experienced a setback and had to close shop, people lurched out at the proprietor and overnight we had all these wannabe business analysts dissecting his weaknesses and convincing us why he could never have been a successful businessman. Never mind that his tormentors have hardly run vegetable kiosks.

It is the hard nosed condemnation upon failure of those that try that scares away those that want to try. Quotes like this one from Warren buffet only make matters worse, “My two rules of investing: Rule one – never lose money. Rule two – never forget rule one.”

In 1985 Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple, a company he founded by its Board of Directors and the CEO, John Sculley that he had personally hired. This wasn’t the best of time for him as he was just 30 years old and already a public celebrity. In a commencement speech at Stanford University he said “What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating… I was a very public failure.” This led him into an early mid-life crisis. Years later, in 1997, he was called back to a nearly bankrupt Apple which he later realised was 90 days away from bankruptcy by the time he took over. In the same year, when Michael Dell was asked what he would do if he were in Steve Jobs’ shoes, he responded, “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.” By the end of 2006, Apple’s worth had surpassed that of Dell and we all know that the rest is history.

Back home, in an interview with one of the local daily newspapers, Steven Kiprotich the current World and Olympics Marathon Champion was ridiculed as a failure when he quit studies to concentrate on athletics. A quick Google search is enough show you that his decision isn’t regrettable.

A friend of mine I studied with has toyed around with various entrepreneurial ventures over the past decade. His story is quite humbling. Full of what I will opt to call challenges and not failure. He set up a forex bureau with a team of friends and quickly realised the need to have controls in order to avoid financial leakages. When he came up with an implementation plan and shared it, he was hounded out.

He then tried his hands on a transport business which quickly became successful and at its peak, monthly revenues of Ushs 40 Million were a common sight. Due to lack of proper controls, this dwindled down to as low as Ushs 4 Million and he was forced to sell off the business for peanuts. Being the hardliner that he is, he simultaneously tried his hands at setting up a hostel residence for students. To cut the long story short, this too failed miserably after he had invested handsome proceeds into it.

Despite the knockouts he had experienced, he never gave up and went ahead to found a Human Resource Consulting firm which he has wrestled from a time when partners had offered to buy him out to the current stage where its a leading player in the recruitment industry and has branches all over East Africa.

These stories and probably many more that you already know all point to the fact that failure or challenges are not a death sentence. No successful entrepreneur can claim not to have a scar of failure up their sleeves. I speak to many of you out there whose fear of ridicule has prevented you from realising your full potential. Bill Cosby once said, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing and becomes nothing,” a quote from Leo Buscaglia.

If you have read this article this far, you definitely want and admire entrepreneurship and its associated benefits but the fear to court failure is likely to keep you at the admiration and dreaming phase. No business school can effectively prepare you for an entrepreneurial career. There are things you must learn on the job, the hard way but they are worth the pain in the end. Failure is the fuel that powers the entrepreneur’s engine. It propels you forward as opposed to rendering you static. Samuel Beckett put is bluntly, “Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” This is echoed by John F Kennedy, “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.”

The relationship between Success and Failure

The relationship between Success and Failure

While success may steer you forward, failure catapults you even further. Failure is to success what rocket fuel is to a rocket. Managing failure, learning from it and building upon it is very key in our lives.

All said and done, what the average Joe views as failure, real entrepreneurs view as a challenge or setback. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” once said Winston Churchill.

You have feared for too long, years have gone by, you may have seen one idea after another that you had in mind become a runaway success for others that chose to implement amidst all the risks. This is the time to change the scales, let the desire for success prove to be more potent than your inherent afinity to fear. Get off your laurels. The time is now !!!

Success lies in failure.

Why Raise School Fees?

Ever since the Minister of Finance read out the Government of Uganda’s Budget proposals for the financial year 2014/15, we have been treated to numerous threats by the some proprietors of Private Schools under the umbrella body of National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA) to increase the School Fees charges. This came up as a result of the Government proposing to remove the Income Tax Exemptions currently enjoyed by the Educational Institutions.

As a parent I feel insulted by these continuous attempts to blackmail not only the Government but we parents into joining the crusade of these capitalists involved in our education industry. Do they think that they are dealing with illiterate parents who have no understanding of how the taxation system works? Do they somehow wish or hope that as parents we shall rise up based on mere emotions and lack of proper comprehension of issues to back their pleas?

Having read the Minister’s budget speech in its entirety, she stated; “… I propose to terminate the exemption on income derived by a person from managing or running an educational institution for commercial gain. This is consistent with the principle of equity and transparency in tax regime, and broadening the tax base by bringing more tax payers into the tax net.”

With all due respect and knowing that the proprietors of these institutions are all out to contribute to the Educational advancement of our population, why would one not want to pay tax on income accrued as a result of pursuing this agenda? Working class Ugandan citizens are taxed left right and center and Income Tax is one of those that they do not survive. While the Government might have given the Education industry a tax break in this regard, it didn’t mean that it would last a life time. Besides, the challenges that brought up this decision years back by Government to waive income tax seem to be no more. The proprietors of these institutions should just be ready to file their income tax returns and pay up.

I don’t see an argument of being over burdened by taxes as holding water. This tax only applies to those schools that are making profit. If no profit is made, then it doesn’t apply. This therefore means that the so called struggling schools will still not fall victim to this tax.

To simplify this, add up all the School income from school fees and any other sources then subtract expenses like costs of feeding, salaries for Admin, teaching and support staff, utilities, Local taxes among others. Whatever remains is expected to be the profit and that is what the 30% Income Tax is applicable to. Profits after expenses belong to the business owners and that is probably the bone of contention to many who have been enjoying a free ride making massive untaxed income.

Another argument that is being forwarded is one of loans that are even causing some of the schools to close. The performance of a school in regard to loan repayment cant be directly attributable to the existence or lack of Income Tax. In Uganda, most financial institutions lend against assets. It is highly unlikely that a school with assets worth Ushs 100 Million will be given a loan of Ushs 1 Billion.

It is a good idea for all actors in the Ugandan economy to realise that as we move towards full funding of our national budget, we have to bear the brunt of raising the much needed financial resources. This definitely might mean us remaining with less in our pockets in the process but lets avoid looking for scapegoats. Increasing school fees by the proprietors is not the solution to the Income tax resumption on the industry. Let the business owners readjust their expectations and those that have been stashing away massive profits, its the time to share the loot with Government. As for that poor struggling school that hardly makes a profit, they have no reason to be bothered by this tax resumption.

Fellow parents, let us not be drawn into this well orchestrated scheme by a few who want to continue earning untaxed income. Any school fees increments should be justified with facts.