Western Uganda: John Mulindabigwi making a difference in education sector

Christine Kyarikunda

Education industry quality in Uganda remains low compared to global standards. It is a sad reality that many schools lack necessary infrastructure, qualified professional human resources with appropriate skills to combat present reality. This is especially so at the primary level within many districts. It is no surprise many of the products of primary education acquired in the primary level could not meet standard outcomes.

Despite all the claims by the government that Universal basic Education had increased, there is not enough evidence to justify results produced. A recently released Uganda Certificate of Education UCE 2023 results showed the first five best performing schools are private not government aided.

 In 2007, Uganda had become the first in Sub Saharan Africa to introduce Universal secondary education, President Yoweri Museven announced that the government would establish a secondary school per sub county in Uganda. Despite these promises,16 years later, some districts including Kamwenge are yet to enjoy such benefits.

Kamwenge District in Uganda

Kamwenge district has been faced with low quality education which is hard to access due to poverty, long distances and low service delivery by the schools. Kamwenge district in southwestern Uganda continues to struggle with quality education, this is especially so for public schools in the district.

Low number of children who enrolled in Primary schools finished their education.  Access to school is one of the noted challenges faced by children due to poverty and low economic capability of parents within the Western region of the country. Many of the families are said to be living in mud houses and on average $2( US Dollars) per day.

Canon Mulindabigwi initiatives

It is not common in Uganda for an individual to establish a beautiful standard school in a typical or rural village. But Can Mulindabigwi decided to gift Kamwenge with one at a low cost to support education at a very low cost of $100-$130.

Canon Mulindabigwi

Canon Mulindabigwi intervention, Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational school(KSVS) located in Rwengoro ward Rukunyu town council, Kibale county Kamwenge district along Kamwenge-FortPortal road in southwestern Uganda was established to improve accessibility and quality of education in the district.

The school opened officially in 2007 with 3 classrooms 7 seven students. At the end of the same year the school’s students’ population reached 24 while the vocational section had admitted several adult women (mothers)who were learning knighting.

According to Cannon Mulindabigwi, the idea and thoughts about setting up the school was birthed in his heart in 2000 when Government of Uganda had received Uganda returnees from Tanzania and Rwanda which it settled in Kahunge without a plan to educate them. “I thought about the future of the children that accompanied the Ugandan returnees and felt about creating a school that can cater for their education need”

Cow rearing section

Canon Mulindabigwi said. Beyond a school for the children, I also considered a vocational section that could give marketable skills to the adults too. Hence the vision of a school with vocational skills acquisition. KSVS schools’ uniqueness is in its ability to combine teaching of vocational skills along with formal curriculum.

Poultry section of the school

Prior to the establishment of Canon Mulindabigwi schools, many of the residents in Kamwenge district were reluctant to send their children to long distance schools outside the district as there were no good public schools in the district. Beside this, the level of poverty had prevented many of these children from going beyond grade 7 education. Many parents even removed their children before they could even finish Primary education.

Mulindabigwi feels like his mission succeeded and prospers everyday as he sees many of schools’ beneficiaries graduating from Universities and had gone ahead to carry out Christian seminars as well as become tutors in technical schools.  Because of the fully established vocation sector in the schools, the school now produced their own furniture instead of buying from vendors.

Canon Mulindabigwi says that they did not concentrate on teaching theories but also teaching technical skills such as agriculture, catering wielding, carpentry and construction.

“we plant vegetables in the compound to teach students to utilize every space productively” explains mulindabigwi why they plant vegetables in school compounds.   “We live upcountry we need to teach people to work physically so that they can earn, Africans have not seen things happening other than theories so its time to teach them how to live a practical life” he adds

He revealed that the schools no longer purchase furniture and other items as vocational works are done in the school. Today, our small effort, apart from vocational schools, had led to the establishment of formal schools known as Good shepherd kindergarten and primary schools aside from.

Canon John in one of the school’s vegetable gardens

Today, many KSVS graduates are attending or have completed University around Uganda. Some are returning as teachers at KSVS Others have pursued vocational degrees and are starting their own businesses. Some of our former students stay in Kamwenge District advancing the community. The KSVS reputation as an excellent Christian school is well known throughout the district of Kamwenge and the entire country of Uganda.

KSVS Vegetable garden

Beneficiaries speak.

Nyangoma Grace Ariho a former student who also served Mathematic teaching assistant (because of her brilliance) at Kamwenge vocational who is now in Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara City says that the school helped her to complete her primary education as well as secondary school since her poor parents could not afford a boarding school.

Nyangoma Grace

According to Nyangoma “Because of the proximity of Canon Mulindabigwi school(KSVS) I walk to school since it was in our community and my parents could not afford daily transport to long distance schools”

In addition to this KSVS as a Christian school helped to install good morals” says Nyangoma. On the impact of KSVS schools in the community, Nyangoma affirmed how the school has deeply impacted the community “I could not really imagine how someone like me and many others from such village could have turned out to be whom we are today without such initiative by Canon Mulindabigwi” she adds.

Nyangoma urged more investors to bring such beautiful schools to the village than thinking they should only be in cities

Ronald Akampa, a resident says that they have benefited in all ways from Canon Mulindabigwi   because according to him, many residents’s children including him, are going or had been planned to study in KSVS (Canon Mulindabigwi schools) from nursery, primary to Ordinary and Advanced level in the same place which requires no transport. he adds that it has boosted their income for the school community can buy some food from them.

Furniture production section of the School

Christopher Mwesigwa, 13yrs a primary six pupils in the primary ary section of Good Shepherd Kindergarten and primary was introduced to carpentry and joinery during covid. He says “Now I make furniture, earn money for my up keep”.

Alfred Rukumbagaza, an instructor in the vocation school, says “”one of our goals is to ensure every pupil can become responsible with the ability to provide for themselves and others during their holidays or when they leave the school eventually”. “Some of the boys can now make furniture for the school and get paid thereby afford the privilege of paying for their own fees”, Alfred concluded

Ramech Tumwebaze, a senior high school student in the school affirmed “I started learning how to make furniture during Covid-19 time and now I make school furniture that pay my school fees”

Tushabomwe Chriscent, the kamwenge district senior education officer kamwenge district expressed how grateful they are to the individuals like Canon Mulindabigwi who are strategically addressing challenges in the district. “Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational school has really changed our community” He said

One of the buildings in Canon John School

“KSVS in the district has multiple projects with best buildings even before the government had introduced hands-on skills through the new curriculum KSVS had already started” says Tushabomwe.

Looking forward

Canon Mulindabigwi calls upon the government and other stakeholders to support technical and practical teaching which empower the learner and the nation at large. Canon is dreaming of establishing a University as soon as all processes are fulfilled. this he and his team had set up and waiting for approval

According to Tushabomwe “Government will continue to implement and support a new educational curriculum that teaches hand crafts aside from concentration on theory.

He also added that in fulfilment of government policy of having one secondary school in every sub county plans are under way. This will include Kamwenge district. 

Photo credits: Christine Kyarikunda

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4 thoughts on “Western Uganda: John Mulindabigwi making a difference in education sector

  1. I personally didn’t expect such an initiative to be with in our Kamwenge, thanks to Him and the board of governors

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