It is a hot afternoon when I meet Singh Katongole, 50, inside a high raised wall fence that separates his home from the rest of the community in Lungujja, Rubaga Division.
His compound is a huge expanse with capacity to hold more than 30 cars.
Closed off from the world outside, I scan the compound before Katongole signals me to a dimly lit living room.
It is so hot that I effortlessly sink into the maroon sofas where I join another lady to watch music on a TV that sits just in front of where I am seated.
Katongole invites me to join him in the compound for the interview and it is from that he tells me of how decided to repeat Senior Six after more than 29 years.
“I decided to repeat Senior Six because I was tired of questions from people,” he says, pointing to the dust rising concerns that have for more than five years surrounded his academic papers on whose basis he has been blocked from elective politics in Rubaga North.
In 2015 Katongole was issued with a court order blocking him from contesting as the NRM flag bearer for the Rubaga North constituency.
“I did not alter any results. The applicant just presented counterfeit results bearing my name to the party [NRM] claiming I had presented fake academic papers,” he says but he is quick to acknowledge he failed Senior Six in 1987.
Katongole scored F9s in all the three subjects, including Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
“I found it difficult to concentrate on books during the late 1980s because of instabilities.
I only managed a credit in General Paper,” he says.
With such results, he could not join any university opting to do certificate courses that he would together with his PLE and O-Level certificates present to authorities for elective office.
“Using these certificates, National Council for Higher Education granted me a certificate of A-Level equivalent,” he says, adding that this is what confused some people who would claim that I had forged academic papers.
However, tired of the drama, on a chilly morning, Katongole walked to Golden Secondary School and requested to enroll as a candidate.
“He [headmaster] told me he would seek guidance from Uneb. He later told me my request had been accepted and I was later registered as a Senior Six candidate doing History, Art, Swahili, Sub-Math and General Paper,” he says.
In February 2016, Katongole started on the journey but unlike other students, he was home schooled.
“They would come and teach me from home. Most of the lessons were conducted during evening hours,” he says, adding, “I would utilise day time to run my businesses”.
Through this arrangement, Katongole would pay school charges in addition to tutorial fees.
“I only went there to do registration and to write tests and my final examinations,” he says, noting that during such occasions, apart from when he was writing his final exams, he would not be required to wear the school uniform.
But all this aside, going back to school was not without challenges and Katongole cannot forget the feeling after he learnt that it was mandatory for him to put on the uniform to sit his final exams.
“It was hard for me. I felt it was like taking me back to start all over again after 29 years”.
It was also not easy to convince his family because many of them had not taken him seriously and “thought I would give up ”.
The father of three scored 13 points in History (B), Art (C), Swahili (E), Sub-Math (one point) and General Paper (one point) and he believes the results were not that bad but was only disappointed with the low score in Swahili given his fluency in the language.
“On the other hand, I was surprised with my history marks. I didn’t expect it to turn out as my best done subject,” he says.
Despite all that he went through, Katongole says, he now feels a heavy burden has been lifted off his shoulders and “the chapter of pointing fingers at me has been closed”.
His plan is to enroll for a degree probably in political science but he is yet to decide which university he will join.
He also hopes to rejoin elective politics in 2021 to vie for the MP seat in Rubaga North Constituency.
Advice to MPs with questionable academic papers
“There is no harm in going back to study. All you need is spare a year or two and it will all be over.
Studies add a lot of value to your political career because you will have knowledge to base your arguments on.
The Constitution has a point in asking those seeking political office to avail their academic qualifications.”
Singh’s early life and education
Singh Marwaha Parminder was born at Mengo Hospital in 1967. He is the eldest of three siblings. In 1996 he became part of the Museveni team, campaigning for his re-election in the same year.
He was during the time nicknamed Katongole, a name he later adapted as an alias.
He attended Kimaanya Blessed Sacrament Primary School in Masaka for his elementary school before moving to Kampala Primary School in 1979 where he completed Primary Seven in 1980.
In 1981 he moved to Kampala High School where he sat his Senior Four and Senior Six in 1984 and 1987 respectively.
He is a married with three children.