Butiki's JR Isabirye eulogised for ridding school of strikes

May 24, 2024

Isabirye, who served the school for more than 30 years in various capacities and retired as headteacher in early 2000s, died on Saturday, May 18, 2024, night. 

The late John Richard Isabirye, the former headmaster of Kiira College Butiki was buried in Busede, Jinja district on Wednesday. (Courtesy)

Charles Kakamwa
Journalist @New Vision


JINJA - John Richard Isabirye, the former headmaster of Jinja city-based Kiira College Butiki, has been eulogised for having eliminated the perennial students' strikes. 

Former lands minister Daudi Migereko, who has also remembered Isabirye for lifting the academic performance of the school, made the eulogy during Isabirye's burial at his ancestral home in Busede sub-county, Jinja district on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

Isabirye, who served the school for more than 30 years in various capacities and retired as headteacher in early 2000s, died on Saturday, May 18, 2024, night.  The retired headteacher, family sources said, succumbed to a stroke at Jinja Hospital at the age of 76. 

According to Migereko, who is also the former Butembe County Member of Parliament, Isabirye had attained a stature in Butiki only comparable to that of the Rev. Coates of Busoga College Mwiri and Fr. Grimes of Namasagali College in Kamuli.

“This was so in spite of his simplicity and humility. Indeed he left a legacy which the current administrators must build on and strive to sustain,” he said.

Migereko asked political leaders to be supportive of education institutions in their respective constituencies and remembered the deceased for regularly creating opportunities for him (Migereko) to interact with teachers and students to discuss topical issues in the country, region and world.

“This helped in the mentoring and upbringing of responsible citizens who are currently serving the country in various key positions,” he said.

Among the students that went through his hands is Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, Bugiri Municipality MP Asumani Basalirwa, New Vision finance controller Augustine Tamale, Makerere University lecturer Isaac Tibasiima and media guru Dr Joel Isabirye.

Migereko further observed that Isabirye took advantage of the NRM liberalisation policy in the education sector to start Nakanyonyi Girls SS to address the plight of the girl child in education but also to provide himself a fallback position upon retirement.

He noted that due to the deceased’s meritorious services, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order of the Crested Crane medal by President Yoweri Museveni during last year’s Labour Day celebrations in Fort Portal city.

Tribute from Butiki almuni

Makerere University lecturer Isaac Tibasiima posted on X: I still remember that time in your office and the advice: Work hard. I've never forgotten the signature Good Morning Schoooool, and how gently you told us the school has no money. 20+ years since I left Kiira College, Butiki, I still remember your warmth. Travel well, JR.

Tony Tumukunde, a lawyer and an old boy of the school, said: I am saddened to hear about the death of John Richard Isabirye. He was and has all material time been a dedicated teacher. Many have gone through his blessed hands. Basoga will miss him and the entire Uganda.

In a message posted on X, Julius Galisonga, a former student and a lawyer, said: Saddened to learnt of the death of Mzee John Richard Isabirye. Words cannot capture the meaning of that man to Kiira College and those who went through his hands as HM. We are extremely heartbroken. Rest in Peace.

Eboko Rashid, a business consultant and old boy of the school, said: Mr Isabirye relentlessly strived to guide us towards a special understanding of how much life could be contained and worked hard to instill discipline, values and good morals in us. Bes his distinguished service, Mr Isabirye will be remembered for his calmness, amiability and magananity.

Emmanuel Ononge, a lawyer and old boy of the school, said: Mr Isabirye was never moved by any crisis because he would openly speak about it with the students and teachers. Whenever we made our requests known to him, he would openly speak about them with teachers and students. They say if you want to know a good leader, look for followers who have excelled. We all turned out to be balanced students with the love for academics as well as debate, music, dance and drama, among others.


  • Isabirye studied at Kiira College Butiki from 1963 to 1966 before joining Kyambogo National Teachers College from 1967 to 1969.
  • He taught at Kitante Hill School in 1970 before securing a scholarship at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada where he attained a bachelor’s degree in education in 1973. 
  • On his return to Uganda he was posted to Kiira College Butiki as a teacher of Biology and Geography.
  • He was later made acting headteacher before being confirmed substantively in 1986. 
  • He also had a Master degree in education attained in 1992 from Makerere University. 
  • He retired in 2001 and was succeeded by Daudi Mulongo.
  • Upon retirement, he founded Nakanyonyi Girls Secondary School in northern division, Jinja city and as a member of board for several schools as well as chairman of the Jinja district service commission.

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