28 November 2012

Uganda: Nakato Built St. Kizito Giriyada From Nothing

St. Kizito Giriyada Primary School proudly stands in Bububi village in Luwero district. The only primary school in Bububi, one would not imagine tree shades were once used as classrooms and administration blocks here.

"When I was transferred to this school in 2010, I could not believe what I found. There was neither a classroom nor an administration block. We did not have latrines.

There was nothing to show that this was a school," narrates Rose Nakato, the head teacher. Revamping the school, considering Bububi was a remote area, required a lot of dedication and hard work, but Nakato stood up to the challenge.

"My office was under the jack fruit tree next to the church," she recalls. Those who knew Nakato were shocked that she had accepted to head an "invisible" school.

"We used to have lessons under a tree," says Caroline Odeu, a former pupil. Odeu adds that the first school structure was a small grass-thatched one constructed by the parents.

However, the structure which served as a classroom and office was later destroyed by a strong wind. Finally in 2011, lady luck smiled on the school and it received financial assistance from the local government and a non-government organisation.

Nakato used the funds to set up a classroom block. She says most of the pupils had deserted the school, but "when they realised that the school's standards were improving, the number started growing."

At the time, there were only 112 pupils, but today the number has risen to 354. After constructing classrooms, the school administration put up latrines for both pupils and teachers.

"We used to ease ourselves in the bush," Joseph Ssewanyana, a former pupil, explains. Besides being a head teacher, Nakato also spares time to attend to pupils.

She also organises HIV/AIDS sensitization sessions for both pupils and parents. Robert Kiwenda, a resident of the area for over 70 years, says the school was started almost five decades ago by Catholics before the Government took it over.

But it is not only buildings that the school is proud of today. The school started a feeding programme, with the support of parents.

But all is not rosy for the school. There are no nearby trading centres where teachers can find houses to rent. They have to trek several miles every day to school.

The head teacher also treks seven miles every day to go to school, like most of her pupils. She says she has to wake up at 5:00am to get to school in time. The school also lacks furniture.

It opened a campaign to find well-wishers to support them and the campaign is gradually yielding results. The area MP, Dr. John Muyingo, who is also the state minister for higher education, recently donated some desks to the school.

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