The best student overall in the just-released O-levels in Busoga, 16-year-old Gilbert Joseph Makaawa herds cattle on the side.
He was a student of Kiira College Butiki. Makaawa pulled off an unusual feat; he got eight aggregates in eight subjects, scoring D1s in English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Agriculture, History and Commerce. Margaret Makaawa, the mother, said her boy is highly disciplined.
"He is very religious and humble. He has always looked after our three cows, milked them and sold milk to our community," the jubilant mother said.
Makaawa, the last boy in the family of six, said he was inspired by his elder twin sisters who through hard work excelled academically.
"My sisters are working with microfinance institutions in Tororo and Mbale. I admired them when they got good grades in their UCE and I vowed to perform better," said Makaawa.
He was also grateful for the full bursary his school gave him.
"When I scored a first grade in PLE, my mother (peasant) and my father sold one cow and brought me to Kiira College. In S.1 term one, I emerged the best student in class and as per our school culture, and the administration gave me a full bursary for term two. Since then, I have been leading and the bursary was extended," a visibly happy and teary Makaawa said.
Asked about his dream, Makaawa said he wants to become a veterinary doctor. The head of Kiira College Butiki, Daniel Kayima, described Makaawa as a humble and patriotic student who is focused and has love for his country.
"He has always been hardworking and could help his colleagues. One day he said he would help all Ugandan children from poor families if he excels academically and gets a good job in future," said Kayima.
Meanwhile, another boy with tuition fees challenges emerged 3rd best in his school with a total of 13 aggregates for 8 subjects. James Wickliffe Washiraka comes from a family of peasants who can hardly get their daily meals.
The head teacher said the school registered 143 candidates for UCE. At least 102 passed in division I, 38 passed in division 2 and two in division 3.
"This year's performance was the best in the last five years due to the dedication of the staff and commitment of our parents to meet the school requirements. As a result, the students were focused..." the head teacher said.