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Headteacher Row: Education Ministry gives SMACK/Catholic Church 3-week ultimatum

The Kampala Archdiocese and Ministry of Education and Sports have struck a compromise on the appointment of a new head teacher for St. Mary College Kisubi- SMACK. The Education Ministry Permanent Secretary, Ketty Lamaro, says that they have given the church three weeks to nominate a suitable replacement to Bro Deo Aliganyira, who has been at the helm of the school for seven years.

“…that within a period of three weeks, Kampala archdiocese submits a name of a substantive headteacher who meets the ministry criteria,” Lamaro’s December 23rd letter to His Grace Paul Ssemogerere, Archbishop of Kampala reads in part. Lamaro added that in the meantime the outgoing headteacher can hand over the school to Justus Katatumba, one of the deputy headteachers in line with the Uganda public standing orders. 

There has been a row between the Ministry and the Church revolving around the appointment of a new head of the 116-year-old school, which is ranked among the top-tier schools in the country. 

Following the retirement of Bro. Aliganyira, the Ministry appointed Bro Augustine Mugabo, the current headteacher of St. Henry College-Kitovu, which is a sister school to SMACK given the fact that both are under the Brothers of Christian Instruction.

But, the church rejected the newly appointed headteacher, saying that the ministry had not consulted them. Archbishop Ssemogerere, specifically wrote to the Ministry saying the church preferred Bro. Simon Mpanga, another deputy head teacher at the school.  

Sources from the Education Ministry said that the Archbishop’s letter not only came as a surprise but also threw the top management into anxiety. “Since then, meetings have been sitting to come up with a solution that could be acceptable to the church, which had invoked Section 8 of the Education Act,” a source noted.

The said section 8 stipulates the responsibilities of the government towards grant-aided education institutions which include among other things appointment and deployment of heads (headteachers, deputies). However, most importantly, the section stipulates that this must be done in consultation with foundation bodies – in this case, Kampala Archdiocese.

Looking at the criteria of who should be headteacher, the ministry seemed to politely reject the church’s preferred candidate and also ensured that he is not the one that is appointed as interim headteacher of the school. 

The ministry has listed five requirements that any nominee fronted by the church must possess. The PS says these are the ministry’s standards for any person to head a traditional school at the level of St Mary’s. The first requirement states that the nominee for the position must be a substantive headteacher. 

This alone knocks out Mpanga (who had been fronted by the church). Mpanga is a substantive deputy headteacher at the moment, even worse, the ministry requires that one has held the position of headteacher for the previous three years. 

In 2019, the same standard was used by the ministry to reject the Anglican church nominee at Gayaza High school. In that case, the church’s favorite, Agatha Nakisekka, was a substantive deputy head teacher (at Gayaza) while the ministry’s choice, Robinah Kizito, was a substantive headteacher (at Kitebi SS). Kizito was later appointed after discussions between the two parties. 

Other conditions are that the applicant must be under 57 years of age, have a spotless work history, and led a school of comparable size in terms of enrollment, academic performance, staffing, budget, and infrastructure. Efforts to seek comment on the set conditions from the Archbishop and authorities within the education department at Kampala archdiocese weren’t successful by the time of publishing this story. 

However, in the circles of old students where the issue has since generated debate, they noted that the ministry is attempting to softly pressure the church to accept their nominee, Bro. Augustine Mugabo.    

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