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Innovations drive Kyebambe on journey to academic revival

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th November 2013 07:48 PM

Efforts to revive the academic glory of Kyebambe Girls Secondary School’s are beginning to pay off. Having been founded in 1901, the school has been in the academic doldrums until concerted efforts were made to reawaken the sleeping giant.

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Efforts to revive the academic glory of Kyebambe Girls Secondary School’s are beginning to pay off. Having been founded in 1901, the school has been in the academic doldrums until concerted efforts were made to reawaken the sleeping giant.

By Raymond Baguma                                    
Efforts to revive the academic glory of Kyebambe Girls Secondary School’s are beginning to pay off. Having been founded in 1901, the school has been in the academic doldrums until concerted efforts were made to reawaken the sleeping giant.
 
The school was selected by Government to become a Center of Excellence. The school structures are undergoing rehabilitation and expansion with funding from the African Development Bank (ADB). Upon completion, the school will boast of four additional classrooms, a main hall, teachers’ houses, and two laboratories. This will guarantee increased access to education for the girl child as enrolment is boosted.
 
Already, the school has benefited from ADB funding with new chairs and desks, laboratory chemicals, and text books. However, all these efforts are a work in progress. Outstanding challenges still remain.
 
Richardson Balinda the deputy headmaster in charge of academic affairs says the revival of the school has so far been driven by number of innovations that are having a positive effect on students.
 
The administrators embarked on a countrywide tour to benchmark top performing schools in the country. Also in 2010, Balinda went on a month-long study tour to Scotland with support from the school’s friends in UK. While there, he was attached to Scottish schools and was able to compare the Scottish and Ugandan education systems.
 
With lessons from elsewhere, teachers today provide remedial classes for students who don’t perform well. In the evenings, after regular lessons, the teachers give guided revision to students on a one-to-one basis, revisiting notes and previous tests.                                                                   The Girls in the library 
 
In order to prepare the candidate classes for national exams, the school goes beyond sitting the district joint mock exams, and networks with neighboring regions to share examination material. This has helped students to get rid of exam phobia and the negative opinion that student elsewhere study better.
 
Also, the teachers are encouraged to complete the syllabus early in order to reinforce early revision for candidate classes. “It is now a custom for the last four years for the syllabus to be covered by June 30, so that the remaining time is for revision,” says Balinda.
 
The school also runs a mentorship project where every teacher is placed in charge of students not exceeding 23. This is called a teacher’s family.  Every Monday evening at 5pm, students sit in small groups with the teachers.
 
Balinda says, “At that level, there is closeness with the students. A teacher gets to know them by name, families they come from, and understand their challenges. Problems are shared at an appropriate level to see how we can help. This also helped a lot to keep the girls in school.”
 
The school also introduced the idea of having a ‘consultation shed’ which has become a novelty that other schools could emulate. The shed is designed with open ventilation, equipped with chairs and tables. Under the shed, students consult their teachers on unfamiliar topics beyond classroom lessons.
 
Balinda says the idea of a shed came up after visiting other schools and finding students seated under trees.
He adds, “The consultation happens in a way that a student with a problem relating to homework from a teacher, or a test they don’t understand, can consult the teacher.
 
On the timetable, all teachers have a period for consultation and students are aware. When the period comes, the teacher gets in the shed and waits for the students to come. Or the students will wait for the teacher. From 5pm onwards, students come and meet the teachers in the shed to discuss and learn.”
 
“After every two weeks, we move in every class to see how each student has tried to consult a teacher in an area she has not understood. When we find a certain student is below a certain minimum, we give them at least 10 consultations and a form of academic punishment,” Balinda says.
 
Also, the school’s board of governors resolved to offer full scholarships to students who emerge the best at O’ Level and choose to return to the school for A’ Level. So far, three students have returned to the school as a result of this.
 
One of the beneficiaries of the scheme was this year admitted to Makerere on a Government scholarship and is pursuing a Bachelors of Veterinary Medicine. Another beneficiary was admitted for a Bachelor of Radiography at the same university the previous year.
 
“This means that if you give us the best, we continue producing the best. As a result, enrolment has gone up. Before 2008, it would be very hard to admit more than 60 students in A Level. But at the moment we are going to sit 137 girls for Senior Six exams.”
 
Enrolment has gone up in the school, including the number of students taking up sciences. In 2010, the school produced the best student in the country called Brenda Kebirungi who scored 25 points.
 
He adds, “Our students who are always the best don’t come here when they are the best performers at O’ Level. But the input by teachers here is so much that we transform even the poorly performing students into start performers.”
 
Building the Chapel
Although the administrators desire to increase enrolment from the current 1,115 to at least 2,000 students, there is a shortage of infrastructure space such as classrooms and dormitories. 
 
The dilapidated chapel at Kyebambe (left)
 
Today, the student numbers have by far outstripped the available facilities.  The school was initially built to accommodate small student numbers. Today, the buildings are antiquated. And one of such antiquated structures is the school chapel.
 
According to the headmistress Night Joy Mpairwe Karungi, the school was built with a vision to train the girl child to live in the fear of God. However, the absence of a worship place affects the vision of the founders.
 
Spirituality is a core value of the school whose motto is derived from the Bible in Romans 12: 11. The school motto ‘Mukwekamba tutaba bagara,’ loosely translates as ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.’
 
Headmistress Mpairwe says, “This cause is noble. We are looking at the construction of the chapel as key. We need upright, honest, loving people. You cannot get them unless you have a foundation based on the fear of God. You cannot have that foundation unless you have God’s temple in your midst. The word of God tells us, ‘train up a child the way it should go. And when he is old, he will not leave it.’ That is the real foundation we need. That is why we are taking the chapel as a priority because it affects all areas of life.”
 
The school’s governors, administrators, parents and Old Girls have embarked on a project to fundraise for the construction of a new 2,000-seater chapel to replace the old one constructed in 1947. This is estimated to cost sh1.7 billion.
The school appeals to well-wishers, OGs, parents and friends, organizations that support girl child education to contribute towards having a chapel constructed. 
 
According to Mpairwe, a fundraising dinner is organized next month on December 8, at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala to raise money towards the construction of the chapel.
 
“Pledge cards are available including memorabilia such as t-shirts, to raise money and we are also making appeals to companies, institutions, corporations so that they can make donations towards the construction of the chapel,” she says. 
 
For donations, an account has been opened in Centenary Bank: Account number 5520415237 in the name of Kyebambe Old Girls and Old Boys’ Association. To get a dinner card, call 0702049198 (Headmistress) or 0772576745 (Kampala), or 0772683729 (Fort Portal) or 0772479886 (Mbarara).
 
Over the years, Kyebambe Girls Secondary School has produced many women of substance who are contributing to national development. Some of the Old Girls  
1-      Victoria Rusoke (Kabarole Woman MP)
2-      Dr. Eva Kabongera (Ministry of Health) 
3-      Beatrice Kiraso (Former EAC deputy secretary general)
5-      Edith Nsaba Buturo (Undersecretary ministry of defence)
6-      Joan Rwabyomere (Ambassador)
7-      Princess Elizabeth Bagaya (Tooro Kingdom)
8-      Hope Nsabimana
9-      Martha Asiimwe(Resident District Commissioner)
10-   Jean Kaliba (Resident District Commissioner)
11-   Sylvia Rwabogo (Fort Portal district councilor)
12-   Edith Katete (NW&SC)
13.   Mabel Twinamasiko (Ntare) 
14.   Barbara Kaija (Editor-in-Chief New Vision) email: bkaija@yahoo.com 

 

Innovations drive Kyebambe on journey to academic revival

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