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Strikes are Sir Samuel Baker School’s trademark

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th August 2001 03:00 AM

On Friday, July 13, 2001, the students of Sir Samuel Baker School in Gulu had a serious strike.

On Friday, July 13, 2001, the students of Sir Samuel Baker School in Gulu had a serious strike.

By Caroine Lamwaka On Friday, July 13, 2001, the students of Sir Samuel Baker School in Gulu had a serious strike. Their complaints, among others, were that they were not being given enough food. Poor sanitation was also cited as one of the causes of the strike. The students also accused the school authorities of “confining them too much”, suspending and dismissing them anyhow. They said some of the staff were also very rude to them. In the course of the strike, the students vandalised the school canteen and kitchen. They destroyed utensils and doors. They vandalised a teacher’s house and uprooted groundnuts, cassava, cabbages and maize from the staff garden. They ate up chickens belonging to staff after roasting them. Property destroyed by the angry students is estimated at sh6m. The students were suspended, but have now resumed studies. The ringleaders of the strike were expelled. Prior to the strike, the school had a very nasty incident in October 2000, in which over 200 students marched to Layibi College and beat up students of Gulu College School who were attending a match there. From Layibi College, they marched to Gulu High School and again beat up some students of Gulu College who were having a netball match there. They claimed they were trying to retaliate on Gulu College students for what they had done to Samuel Baker School students. In the case of Gulu High School, the police intervened and the situation was contained. From Gulu High School, the students of Sir Samuel Baker went to Gulu College town office and the girls’ hostel where they beat up the girls and broke windows of the town office before police intervened. In the process, four students were arrested and have since been charged in Courts with malicious damage to property. The case is still in court and the students were expelled from the school. The school board of governors carried out investigation which led to the 15 ringleaders being expelled. Once a prestigious school, with a record of academic excellence in the 1960s and 70s, Sir Samuel Baker has been singled out for its history of strikes. Since the 1980s, the school has seen a marked decline in academic performance. It has witnessed over 20 strikes since 1973, according to Mr Mike Ochan the headteacher. The most prominent strikes were registered in the early 1980s. They were sparked off by very petty issues. One of them was that the headteacher was using the school lorry as a personal car. The others were either the food, academic matters or games and entertainment. The first strike took place in 1973, 20 years after the school was established. It was on the issue of food. According to Ochan, when he came to the school in November 2000, a SWOT assessment was done. SWOT stands for strength, weaknesses and threats. The assessment discovered that there was a lot wrong with the school. For instance, the school lacked a fence. This made it difficult to control the students, the headteacher noted. Sanitation was also very poor. The dormitories are dilapidated without fittings such as windows and strong doors and lighting and beds. The teachers’ houses are also dilapidated and without water, electricity. No renovation had been undertaken for the last 40 years. The school library and science laboratories are poorly stocked. These are some of the weaknesses in the school, Ochan told Education Vision. According to Ochan, after carrying out the assessment, a school mission and objective stressing hard work and discipline was established. The SWOT assessment also noted that the school has had a poor and weak administration for a long time. This could also be contributing to the rampant strikes. As the new administration struggles to improve students’ living conditions and diet, only time will tell whether this will stop the strikes. Only then will Sir Samuel Baker School once again become an academic giant.

Strikes are Sir Samuel Baker School’s trademark

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