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St. Edwarda's Bukuumi: The fountain of pride rises again
Monday, 14th January 2013

LIKE a fire on a hill, St. Edwarda's Secondary School Bukuumi can be seen from the neighbouring villages in Kibaale district. Formerly known as the fountain of pride and knowledge, that acclaim almost got blown away a few years ago when the school started deteriorating.

The school was started in 1945 by the White Fathers commonly known as the Verona Brothers. It was initially a boys only school. In 1948, it was handed over to the Brothers of Christian Instruction for management.

On that same hill stood another girls school ” St. Cecilia Secondary School which had been started by Daughters of Mary Sisters in Bwanda-Masaka.

In 1976, St. Cecilia S.S was merged with St. Edwards S.S Bukuumi. The girls studied from the boys wing and later went back to their wing, which today acts as dormitories for girls.

The best years
The school's best years were the 1970s.During this time, St. Edwards S.S competed with schools like St. Mary's Kisubi, St. Henry's College Kitovu, and Namilyango College in terms of infrastructure and academics.

The 1980s war greatly affected the school leading to its decline. In the early 1990's the school continued to go down. But in the late 90s it started improving again.

But like they say, even the one-eyed man among the blind is always a king. In 2008 and 2009, St. Edward's beat all the other schools' under Catholic Brothers to the Lamennais foot ball trophy.

The trophy is competed for annually by all schools under the Brothers of Christian Instruction, in Kisubi in Kampala.

The school also won the Coca cola district competitions for three consecutive years. St. Edward's is currently under the leadership of Brother Deodati Aganyira.

It has a students population of about 675 and 37 teaching and 26 non-teaching staff. Brother Joseph Byamukama was its most influential former head teacher.

The challenges
The liberation war that ousted the Obote II government greatly affected the school's academic excellence.

Before the war, St. Edward's had students from the north, central and eastern parts of Uganda. But with the liberation war which had some of its roots in western Uganda, its collapse was inevitable.

It used to be the only recognisable school in this region. But with the liberalisation of education in the country, several other schools cropped up and overtook its performance and acclaim in the region.

In a bid to raise more revenue, the school opened up a day section. With minimal fees raised and the difficult task of maintaining discipline among the day students, the school began to have troubles.

With time, managing a mixed, day and boarding O and A-level secondary school became a challenge.

Today, as the bathrooms and dormitories at the girls wing crave for renovation, it goes a long way to show that the school needs a massive facelift if it is to stand the test of time.

Moving ahead

The dormitories walls have wide gaping holes. The buildings at the girls wing have not had a new coat of paint in decades. The soggy, dump environment of the shower rooms is not the best for girls.

The dormitories on the boys wing also need a massive face lift and with the continuous increase of students enrolment, the school will quickly need more dormitories.

Proud of once having the best school farm in Bunyoro, the school now has only 20 exotic cows.

However, all is not lost. The school has stocked about 50 goats on the farm, maintained a massive 4-acre banana plantation and planted 30 acres of pine trees.

Credit goes to the headmaster, Brother Aganyira and the school management for effectively utilising about sh200m from the Government to renovate classrooms and the main hall.

Management has also improved on students discipline. Although strikes, bullying and low academic performance crippled the school in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the school is regaining its ground and more students are passing their O-level examinations.

The school can now effectively compete for slots on government sponsorship at university.

The headmaster has also reinstated annual general meetings to give other stakeholders like parents a say in the way the school is run.

He says with the improvement of the schools infrastructure and academic performance, enrolment will soon shoot up to about 1,000 students.

How will this be done?
The school plans to strengthen its old students association to effectively take part in rebuilding it. They plan to buy a bus and implement other departmental projects.

Wellen Bamwesigye, a parent and former Parents Teachers Association (PTA) treasurer, says: This school has had many problems due to mismanagement. However, there has been a turn around of events and the school is doing well now. The current headmaster must be given a chance to stay to make things better.

Bamwesigye adds that the old students and parents should be called upon to lend a hand in rebuilding the school, and that the Board of Governors must be constituted by parents and not mere community members.

The LC3 chairman of the area, Fred Mwesigwa, says the school's new administration has instilled discipline, improved academic performance and revamped the infrastructure. If given time, the new headmaster and staff will keep it afloat, he says.

Joseph Isingoma, the sub-county chief agrees with him. He says since the former Vice-President (an old student of the school) visited, it has greatly improved.

St. Edwards S.S has a vibrant old students' association which meets every October 13, on the school's annual celebrations, to discuss the school's development. The association is currently working with management to organise the forthcoming platinum jubilee celebration.

The school also plans to affiliate itself with universities so that its premises can be used for shorter courses during holidays, as one of the income generating activities.

Other prominent old students are: Emmy Allio(External Security Organisaton (ESO)), Robinah Nabanja (Woman MP Kibaale district), Muguluma (Namilyango College head teacher) and Hajj Badru Wagwa, (Education Service Commission).

With the progress being made, the school will soon live up to its motto,Honour Et Laboura again.