By Elvis Basudde
IN Kasangombe near Nakaseke, on the Kampala-Gulu Road, a venture was started in 2003, to show what a seed school should be. This is Kasangobe Secondary School, the first seed school to be constructed in Luweero district.
Seed schools are those planted in areas where, previously there was no school. Seed schools are the brain-child of the Government.
Frevious Ssemakula, the pioneer headmaster, explains that previously, there was a small community school called Namasuba Secondary School.
â€œWhen the Government launched the programme, the offer was given to Namakokolo village. The school was to cater for the whole of Kasangombe sub-county and that is how it got its name,â€ Ssemakula says.
The schoolâ€™s mission is to increase access to affordable secondary education, especially to disadvantaged children and the girl-child, with the aim of producing disciplined, God-fearing and responsible citizens.
It is a day school catering for students from Senior One to Senior Four.
It has well-cemented and ventilated classrooms, an administration block, library with basic text books, a laboratory with basic equipment and it is also a UNEB center.
The school, 40 miles away from Kampala, offers both arts and science subjects. Students do practical agriculture on their banana plantation, where they also cultivate maize and greens.
There are 16 trained teachers and 200 students. It also has four non-teaching staff. The teachers were recruited by the Ministry of Education.
â€œWhen they lack personnel, I work together with the board of governors to recruit private staff. There is also the Parentsâ€™ Teachersâ€™ Association executive committee that helps me run the school,â€ says Ssemakula.
A student pays sh40,000 per term, which includes lunch and stationery for exams. The school first held Oâ€™level examinations in 2005.
A total of 17 students sat, one got first grade and the rest passed in second, third and fourth grades. There was no failure.
The second batch was in 2006 with 37 candiddates. One passed in first grade, eight in second, thirteen in third and eleven in the fourth grade.
Ssemakula says that in order to improve the performance, the school conducts extra lessons, especially in science subjects, early in the morning. In the evenings, special lessons are conducted for candidates.
â€œWe arrange debates for students to improve their English. We have mid and end of year exams. We motivate students who do well by giving them presents like pens, books and dictionaries,â€ says Ssemakula.
The school participates in extra curricular activities like sports, music, dance and drama. It came second in the Nakaseke zonal football competition.
The school was the best in music, dance and drama in the district last year.
Ssemakula says they are very well-prepared for the Universal Secondary Education programme. More desks have been put in place and more rooms have been created to accommodate students.
â€œWe have so far recruited 130 students in Senior One and more are still coming. The ministry is supposed to give sh29,400 per child per term.
The education ministry also gives us a grant of sh7m per term for school activities. We are grateful because the money is already on our account,â€ stresses Ssemakula.
He however, regrets the challenge of parents not paying school fees, since most of them are poor. They either delay to pay or at times they default, making it difficult to run the school to pay the non-teaching staff, electricity bills, teachersâ€™ welfare and meals.
â€œParents need to be sensitised. When they hear that the Government is going to assist the school, they drop their responsibilities thinking that the Government is going to buy uniforms and text books,â€ observes Ssemakula.
He says as a way forward, they are making strategies to start Senior Five in 2008.
In order to increase enrollment and tap a good number of students from Kampala and other places, the school has started a private boarding section, with 20 girls already admitted. They are also building more teachersâ€™ houses.