The 34-year-old lower primary school teacher’s courage knows no boundaries, After teaching for seven years in a government aided school, a Nakubulwa, an upcountry teacher, resigned her job out of frustration.
“What frustrated me most is that in government schools, the teaching schemes are made in such a way that lower primary teachers are supposed to impart seven lessons daily. Infant classes close their day at 1pm. In my experience, teaching seven lessons between 8am and 1pm, a duration of five hours including break time, is practically impossible.
Even if a teacher is very hardworking, she says, he or she may only manage to teach five or six lessons within that time, adding that the seventh lesson that the children miss, will never be compensated because the next day, has its fixed schemes. “When that goes on everyday for a whole year, the child’s loss is irreparable,” she says.
This troubled Nakubulwa, considering that she was passionate about offering quality education to children, saying that learners were being cheated. Besides complaining to the head teacher, she had nothing to do about it. What made it even more frustrating, was the fact that, the system allows teachers to do so little without any consequences.
While teaching at Kitimba UMEA Primary School, Nakubulwa’s ensured that her pupils knew how write their name, recited both the Luganda and the English alphabet by the time they completed primary.
Seven years later, she decided to quit. Her plan was to start her own school. In January 2012, after years of reflecting, Nakubulwa started a school in her sitting room.
How she started
“I started with five children in my home. My original plan was to take on only nursery age group, give them a firm foundation before releasing them to join primary. However, parents kept bringing me older children. By the end of the second week, I had twenty children. I was left with no choice but to accommodate primary one and two as well. I had to employ two more teachers. By the end of the term, I had 67 children,” Nakubulwa says.
By the end of the first year, Nakubulwa says her house was full of school children. 87 to be specific, studying in a three-bedroom house. She says the garage and two bedrooms were turned into classrooms, but the population kept growing. She asked her husband to help her build a classroom next to her detached kitchen, to obtain more space in the house.
In a village surrounded by established schools, where admission is free, more and more parents were paying to send their children to her home to teach their children, she says. Nakubulwa charged only Shs30,000 as school fees, My plan was to sell twenty thousand bricks and use the money to buy cement, iron sheets and other building materials. The remaining ten thousand would be enough for construction.”The five classrooms and office were completed, just in time, for the opening of first term in 2014. That is how Little Angels Primary School was born. She had earlier bought a piece of land opposite her home, in a bid to expand. After two years, the school was shifted to the new block with 125 children. The school then, had learners from nursery to primary six.
At the end of 2016, only four primary seven candidates sat for Primary Leaving Exams (PLE) at Little Angels Primary School, for the first time. She says the candidates registered for their examinations at a government school nearby because the school did not have a Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) number. When results came out, the best candidate had aggregate 12, the only grade the school got that year. The other three got second grades. Nakubulwa says this was a stepping stone.
The growth of her school attracted the attention of authorities, causing them to assess the school standards. Nakubulya says officials wanted to know, if the school had a licence, qualified teachers, enough space, among other requirements. Her school was not closed. She obtained the school license in 2017. She could now focus all her energy on developing the school.
But that was not to be. Her school was later closed in August 23, 2018 under unclear circumstances something that affected enrollment. More taxes were also levied against her school.
John Bosco Sebakumba, the District Education Officer for Butambala District says,
“We found out that most of these village private schools did not have basics like play areas and sufficient toilets.
Some of them didn’t even have classrooms. Our job is to see that the school has the necessary facilities for learning to take place.”
Nakulubwa is not about to give up. She is determined to put the mess behind her and start over again.
“After the closure of the school, I started laying bricks again. I finally had all the time to lay all the bricks I needed to clear all the requirements,” Nakubulwa says. She plans to sell the bricks to raise money build more classrooms.
Nakulubwa is not about to give up. She is determined to put the mess behind her and start all over again. “After the closure of the school, I started laying bricks again.
I finally had all the time to lay all the bricks I needed to clear all the requirements,” Nakubulwa says. She plans to burn the bricks in the dry season.
She looks forward to selling the bricks to raise money for cement for all the classrooms, next year.
It is clear that the closure of her school gave her more resolve, to impart quality and practical knowledge and skills to the young generation.