THE eviction of Kololo High School has left many people wondering how the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) could throw out the very school it founded.
Accusations and counter-accusations are flying between the school management and the Moslem umbrella organ, but judging by what happened to Kampala High, another Moslem-founded school whose premises were repossessed by Aga Khan, Kololo High School could as well be on its way out, just 34 years after it was founded.
The UMSC executive that met on Tuesday, January 11, the very day the school was evicted from Plot 102 William Street, sealed a sh600m deal with Haks Express Limited to manage what used to house the school for the next 20 years.
Haks Express Limited is owned by Asuman Irungu and Aisha Murungi. The duo are also directors in M/s Victoria International, a company linked to city tycoon Haji Hassan Basajjabalaba and currently managing St. Balikuddembe Market. Basajjabalaba is the vice-chairperson of the UMSC.
But Kololo High problems did not start last week. Famed for boxing, swimming and football, Kololo High was founded by the UMSC in 1973 and run as a private school. But it ran into management problems just three years later, forcing the government to take it over in 1976. The council only remained on board.
Unfortunately, the school operated from premises left behind by the Aga Khan following the 1972 Asian Expulsion. The schoolâ€™s first eviction was in 1997 following the 1995 repossession of the Kololo premises by the Aga Khan. It then moved to dilapidated premises in Kamwokya, but was ordered by the ministry of education to phase out by 2000.
However, the phasing out was stayed on the pleas of the former Mufti, the late Saad Luwemba that the Moslem fraternity could not afford to lose another school in the heart of the city having just lost Kampala High School under similar circumstances.
â€œAs the foundation body, the UMSC found it necessary to allocate Kololo High School another alternative premises so as to enable our school to continue to exist. I am therefore writing to request you to have Kololo High School shifted to Plot 102/104 William Street,â€ Luwemba wrote adding that the school would retain its registered name and remain grant-aided.
The building in question, including those on Plots 23, 30 and 32, were donated to UMSC in 1972 by the Bohora Jamaat Asian community. However, following disputes, Kololo High did not move into the premises until 2003, but the party was short-lived.
The long-serving school head teacher, Sakka Kamoga and the acting board chairman, Haji Mohammed Lwogya said they were shocked when the UMSC started demanding for rent. Kamoga said the school paid sh20m to extend the lease on the land but that his explanation that government-aided schools are not supposed to operate from rented premises fell on deaf ears. â€œPaying rent would be tantamount to asking government to withdraw the grant-aiding status,â€ Kamoga said.
Efforts to get a comment from UMSC secretary general, Haji Edirisa Kasenene were futile. But the UMSC spokesman, Isaac Omoding said the arrangement under which the school was allowed into the premises was that it would pay rent.
So on October 18, 2004, the UMSC secretary for education, Jowad Kezaala, wrote to Kamoga giving them a three-month notice to vacate the premises. Kezaala said the cash-strapped council had budgeted to earn sh6m monthly from the property but that the school had failed to comply despite the rates being revised to sh1m and sh2m monthly in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
So the inevitable happened on Tuesday. Haks Express Services is now in charge of the property for the next two decades, not for sh6m a month as the UMSC had budgeted, but sh2.5m if the sh600m is computed into monthly.
The incident could mark the end of the school that has nurtured personalities like state sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi, Kawempe North MP Latiff Ssebaggala, the director education standard agency, Dr. Rose Nassali and police force director of training Fred Yiga.
Tribulations of Kololo High