13 February 2017

Uganda: Monitor Bursary Inspired Him to Start a School

In 1992, a then young Emma Masumbuko jubilated after scoring Aggregate Nine, a first grade, in his Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) from Lugazi East Primary School.

This joy was, however, short-lived after learning that his poor parents could not afford to educate him further.

Rather than sit home, a friend advised him to visit the Monitor offices that were then located on Dewinton road in Kampala.

Here, he met up with Wafula Oguttu, then Editor-in-chief, Charles Onyango Obbo, then Editor and James Sserugo, then Business Editor to tell them about his predicament. Bothered, they took up the matter into their hands by assigning a reporter to interview Masumbuko and thereafter have the story run in the newspaper.

The article was published in June, 1993 under the headline, Those with teeth do not get meat.

Turning point

It caught the eye of the now late Tecla Kinalwa, a former State House Comptroller who promised to fund for Masumbuko's school fees jointly with Monitor. In addition, they promised to also cater for scholastic materials and pocket money.

Masumbuko was able to start Senior One in the same year (1993) at Manjasi High School, Tororo where he also completed Senior Four in 1996. For Senior Five and Six, he attended Muljibhai Madhvani College, Kakira.

"This kind of support motivated me to work hard and become very responsible at school," he says, adding, "I was afraid of making any mistake that would either make the company or Ms Kinalwa withdraw the funding."

At the end of every school term, Masumbuko had to take his report to his sponsors to see his performance.

"In case I had not performed well in particular subjects, they would ask for reasons why but also at the same time encourage me to work harder," he says.

Thanks to his sponsors, the former beneficiary says he became more disciplined and humble, that virtues have made other people appreciate their influence on him.

It is this affiliation that has made Masumbuko and Oguttu close.

"He is like another father to me. We chat about different aspects of life from time to time," he says.

In 1999, he qualified for a State House scholarship and joined Makerere University to study Mass communication. He graduated in 2003.

He put this qualification into use by writing stories for Daily Monitor and KFM on a freelance basis until 2006 when he joined Lugazi Sugar Corporation to work as a public relations officer up to February, 2013.

Afterwards, he joined Mayuge Sugar Industries Limited in July 2013 until 2015 when he resigned and embarked on a project of starting a school at his own home situated near Mabira forest, a rain woodland area in Buikwe District.

"Since the house is big, we turned the dining area into an office and the boys' quarters into classes," he says.

The school

The prior aim of the school is to help infant pupils who cannot move long distances in the risky areas surrounded by sugarcanes.

Masumbuko launched Monitor Junior School in 2016. It is from nursery level to Primary Three and in honour of Monitor Publications Limited's corporate social responsibility of supporting needy but brilliant children.

The school has seven teachers with him inclusive. Masumbuko teaches Social Studies as well as gives the youngsters early career guidance.

"I always encourage them to work very hard to the extent that I make promises to cater for the fees of those who excel but whose parents lack enough money," he says.

By the end of last year, the number of pupils in the school was 187.

The school still struggles with limited resources to boost the learning environment. "For instance I struggle paying salaries to teachers because most of the children do not pay school fees," he says.

It is for this reason he hopes to partner with developmental partners with similar interests to help in the cause.

In the near future, he plans to expand the school to Primary Seven and also set up a secondary school. To school dropouts, Masumbuko advises them to look for solutions rather than sit idle at home.

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