By John Semakula and Henry Nsubuga
He is a committed, tough and likeable administrator. He has held one of the country’s oldest and best schools at the helm of success for years. This is non other than Gerald Muguluma, the pillar of Namilyango College. Being a boys’ school, one would easily expect strikes, like some other single-sex institutions, which is not the case.
He says he runs the school like his own home. He is the father and his students are like his own children. Muguluma says he knows almost all the students and pays special attention to details. Failure is no option in his school and he believes that whoever joins the school must excel, no matter their background.
“When they get here, they become part of the family and we believe in one thing—success.”
CANING IS TABOO
In this school, caning students is a taboo. Muguluma believes instilling self-drive in his students is important, but, there are other ways of doing it.
“A naughty student may be denied a chance to go for a social activity, like games or socialising with girls from other schools,” Muguluma says. Namilyango being a boys’ school, socialising with students of the opposite sex is a ‘big deal’ and highly anticipated
Juliet Atwebembeire, a parent of one of Namilango’s former student says Muguluma is an understanding headmaster, who knows how to handle adolescents.
“My boy had ganged up with other students who wanted to go for dances at night, but the headmaster counselled them. The boy changed and he is now a good man,” Atwebembeire says.
“He is a very hardworking and serious administrator,” adds Michael Mwesigwa, a resident near the school. “We know him for his love for children and being a disciplinarian.”
Much as some headteachers might count buildings and fleets of cars for their sweat in educating children of this nation, Muguluma says he has nothing much, save for a chain of friends whose children he groomed.
He says parents should give their children what is enough when sending them to school.
“Students report with hundreds of thousands of shillings at the beginning of term as pocket money and become ungovernable. This is wrong,” Muguluma says
Students of Namilyango College are also given a lot of freedom; to help them learn to lead their lives. On weekends, they are left to manage their affairs as teachers rest.
The school is one of the few with many games and sports activities. “I put a lot of emphasis on raising an all-round person,” he says. “We ensure that each of the students participates in games and sports and also put a lot of emphasis on God, since our school has a strong Christian foundation,” he says.
Namilyango College is among the most prestigious schools in Uganda, owing to its excellent academic performance and dominance in sports. For long, it was the best school in boxing, until the sport was stopped in the school in the 1990s. Rugby is the biggest sport in the college. Namilyango has won the national schools’ rugby titles many times.
In 2003, Namilyango College was rated the 65th best high school on the Africa. Namilyango College was a pioneer in Information Technology in Ugandan schools.
He adds that he puts emphasis on academics and this has yielded good results; keeping the school among the best schools in the country. Students too, fight to guard the school’s reputation.
Namilyango College’s good performance is attributed to Muguluma’s management style.
Muguluma says the magic for good performance at the school is rooted in teaching the core subjects, finishing the syllabus on time and revising UNEB past papers.
In 2002 when Muguluma joined Namilyango College as headteacher, the school was at the verge of crumbling and the students’ population had dwindled from 1,000 to about 800. It was also at the time when the school’s disciplinary record was at its lowest mark.
Muguluma who was from St. Joseph Nagalama; inherited problems at Namilyango which he has slowly fixed in the 11 years. He had also fixed simillar problems while still at St. Joseph Nagalama.
Muguluma celebrating with former Senior Four students of 2011-2012 who got first grade
Muguluma holds a Bachelors and Master’s degree in education. He was persuaded by his father Cornelius Kiragga (RIP)to pursue education.
“My father told me that by being a teacher I would be like the former President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere(RIP), who was also teacher,” he said.
Amongst the 180 students who were in Muguluma’s class, he said he was the only one who put education as his first choice at Makerere University.
How can the education system be improved?
Judith Namaganda, a teacher
The Government should stop coming up with education policies which favour only urban schools. Making science subjects compulsory was not bad, but most of the schools in rural areas do not meet the required standards. Students only get to see these apparatus in examination rooms.
Juliet Atwebembeire, a teacher
The Government is coming up with policies which are making students more defiant. Caning students was banned in schools which has greatly affected education. We shall in future have citizens who are more of a disaster to the country due to the poor upbringing.
Yahaya Were, former deputy RDC Mukono
The curriculum keep changing, which means that teachers need to go back for refresher courses. Some teachers have tried to go back for studies, but due to the poor pay, they end up getting demoralised. The Government needs to revisit the promotion and remuneration of teachers, if the quality of education is to be improved.