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St. Peter’s College: A hub of country smart brains

By Andrew Masinde

Added 20th April 2016 05:12 PM

A tour around the school reveals more new developments. There are now new classroom blocks, new staff houses, new latrines and many renovations of the school’s old buildings.

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A tour around the school reveals more new developments. There are now new classroom blocks, new staff houses, new latrines and many renovations of the school’s old buildings.

THREE kilometres from Tororo town, St. Peter's College, the lion that nurtured some of Uganda’s great icons, sit silently.

Just as you enter the compound, old fashioned buildings remind you that this is one of the oldest schools in the country.

Amidst these old fashioned buildings are new structures that have brought the school to date, there is a multipurpose structure that indeed gives a clear picture of better accountability. According to the deputy head teacher Francis Emokol, the multipurpose building houses the library, the laboratories and some administration offices, and it was constructed by the ADB projects.

A tour around the school reveals more new developments. There are now new classroom blocks, new staff houses, new latrines and many renovations of the school’s old buildings.

Francis Emokol, the deputy headteacher of the school says that, "We had tried as the school, the management committees and parents but still we could not manage to transform the infrastructure of this school. Thanks go to Government and the African Development Bank which came to our rescue and constructed for us so many other buildings.”

 

History

St. Peter's College was founded by the Mill Hill Missionaries in 1941.

The St. Joseph's Foreign Missionary Society of Mill Hill was founded by Cardinal J Vaughan.

In 1894 this society was assigned the north-eastern part of the Nyanza Vicariate, re-named the Vicariate of the Upper Nile.

Their coming to Uganda was mainly influenced by the misconception that the Protestant Church was an English Church and that the Catholic Church was a French Church due to the fact that the pioneers of those churches in Uganda were Englishmen and Frenchmen respectively.

This misconception led to factionalism which led to animosity in which bloody wars were fought between the "Wangeleza" and the' Wa franza'. These wars aroused great concern among English Roma.), Catholics that they approached Cardinal Vaughan to send his missionaries to Uganda.


The unique thing about the Mill Hill Missionaries was that they were both English and Roman Catholics and they served a conciliatory role in dispelling previous misconceptions.

Since their advent in 1894, the Mill Hill Missionaries have played a leading role in health and education, besides their primary task of spreading the Catholic religion. Some of their health and educational institutions can be found at Nsambya, Namilyango, Namagunga, Kamuli and Tororo, to mention but a few.

On May 24, 1941 (Empire Day) whilst the 2nd World War was raging, St. Peter's College was founded.

 Bishop Rcesinck faced massive opposition from the various quarters which did not want a Catholic Collage in the Eastern region on the one hand, and from within the missionary ranks where it was felt that the College was a waste of money and would end up tying up many priests who were required for pastoral duties elsewhere.

 

 

Bishop Reesinck, who was such a tough man and a forceful character was not stiffened by the opposition, he was determined and went ahead to put up every stick and stone of the College out of his own funds.

The school received its first African graduate teacher in 1957 in the person of Mr. Bernard Onyango, the former Academic Registrar at Makerere University (RIP). He was joined in 1958 by another African teacher, Isaac Lekoka, from Basutoland (now Lesotho).

At the same period a three play-room block was constructed and the. Inauguration of the dining hall was laid. The academic performance of the school began to rise so considerably that it stated featuring in the national lime light.

In 1962, the school underwent further expansion with the introduction of the triple stream in senior one congestion was eased in the dormitories, with the completion of the new dining hall with a sitting capacity of over 700 students. The old dining hall reverted to its original purpose as a dormitory.

Further expansion was realised in 1963 when USAID made it possible to construct several buildings, the Buildings under this scheme were: a storied administration block to house the library, staff room, offices and five classrooms; 1 dormitory block to accommodate 200 students; a two room laboratory block; 3 ablution blocks attached to existing dormitories and four staff houses.

 

With these facilities the college was able to introduce the high school course in 1965. The course started with 20 students each for Arts and Sciences on a private basis. In 1967, the government recognised the course and undertook its sponsorship. The first 'A' Level candidate; 19 students qualified for University entry.

The last major phase of expansion of the college occurred in 1968 when several buildings were erected under the I.D. A. (World Bank) Project.

These included; a three-room classroom block, two-room commercial section, one laboratory block, three dormitory blocks with ablution, sick-bay block, two room  workshop for metal work and kitchen stores, six staff houses and Fine art block.

With these facilities the College was able to expand its staff and curriculum. Accounts, typing, metal work and technical drawing were added to the school's curriculum. During this time, St. Peter's College got its first African headmaster in the person of Fr. A. Opio, who replaced Fr. Thomson in 1968.

Hard times

Emokol says St. Peter's College was affected by the coup of 1971; which led to the loss of many developments, but has managed to come out of the hard conditions though the wounds can't be lost.

"The declaration of Economic war in 1972 also greatly affected the staffing at the College. The expatriate teachers, mainly from Britain, who dominated the staff at the time, were expelled from the country. This created a shortage of qualified staff although this was only momentary as the school gradually received Ugandan teachers to replace them," he explains.

He however, adds that, the inflation and economic decline which the country experienced also greatly affected fixed income earners and the teachers who once boasted of an income that could purchase and run vehicles found themselves too impoverished even to afford a decent meal in their houses.

This triggered off the search for 'green pastures' and the school from around 1977 onwards experienced a desertion and exodus of teachers  to neighbouring Kenya and beyond in such of descent incomes, on a more hopeful note.

"As always you can never go through good times alone, but if you are determined you go over them and Tororo collage too went over them now were on course, we have qualified teachers which has boosted the performance and I believe it is just a matter of time," he explains.

New developments 

Tororo college was among the 42 schools which benefited from the recent post primary education and training expansion and improvement project (ADB Education IV project) funded by the African Development Bank and the Government of Uganda. ADB project injected sh1.04bn into the school.

Emokul says, the ADB project constructed a specious computer laboratory that is fully equipped with furniture and 50 computers and all connected on internet, three fully equipped sciences laboratories, two semidetached blocks for four teachers, all classrooms and administration blocks were equipped with furniture. The old main hall was roofed, a new tractor with plough and trailer and many other developments.

Challenges

The school that has a population of 904 students and 41 teaching staffs on government payroll and nine are not. There are also 13 non-teaching staff.

Francis Eboko the deputy head teacher in charge of academic says the school still needs updated science books.

"Water and sanitation facilities also need intervention. More so, some of the buildings are old and they need urgent repair. There is also need for a school fence if the discipline and the security of the school are to stand out," he stresses.

Will performance improve?

Walter Akwat an old student working with Save the children Uganda says, the performance of the school was always determined by the students; each one had a choice to either read or not.

"Of course no one wanted to fail. We would compete against ourselves which brought the schools performance to the national level. I remember we had good teachers who were dedicated to their work," Aokwat recalls.

He adds that the performance has declined a bit, but this is because of some political issues.

"The administration is committed and works hand-in-hand with the board and the parents. We also have a good administrative structure to make sure that the schools’ performance improves,” he explains.

 

OLD STUDENTS

  • Charles Olweny - Physician. Oncologist, medical researcher and academic. Current Professor of Medicine and Former Vice Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs University (2006 - 2015).
  • Okello Oculi - Author, poet and novelist.
  • Opiyo Oloya - Educator, author, newspaper columnist and community leader. Superintendent of Schools, York Catholic District School Board, Ontario, Canada.
  • Raphael Owor - Physician, pathologist, academic, researcher, and academic administrator. Former Chancellor of Mbarara University. Past Dean, Makerere University School of Medicine and Head of Pathology Department at Makerere.
  • Wilbrod Owori MD bank of Africa
  • Prof Okedi MUK depertment of zoology
  • Maloba S former commissioner ministry of education
  • Prof Ambassador Oboth Okumu
  • Fox Odoi, Budama North MP and former Chief Government spy
  • The late Bernard Onyango
  • Augustine Osband the leader of Iteso
  • Moses Steven Owor cultural leader of the Japadhola

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