May 18, 2024

Lunyolo Involves Parents In Developing Schools

(This article was first published in the New Vision on June 1, 2022)

By Andrew Masinde

Lovenunce Napokoli Lunyolo is the headteacher of Busiu Primary School in Busiu town council, Mbale district.

She was posted to the school in 2017. She started teaching in 1992 at Busiu Primary School, where she taught the Primary One class. She would organise play materials such as ropes and balls made from banana fibre.

“We would make the play materials with the pupils, which was fun for them. In the classroom, I would get sacks and make drawings and writings on them, so I never waited for the school to buy materials,” she says.

In 2006, she was posted to Lumbuku Primary School as an acting headteacher.

The school did not have any grass or tree in the compound. She worked with the pupils to level the compound during their free time and planted grass.

“Many parents thought I was punishing their children, but realised they enjoyed it. The learners created an environment club and on particular days beautified the school compound,” she says.

Wilson Mabonga, one of the residents who witnessed Lunyolo’s work, says she planted a forest in the school which still stands to date. She also trained learners in environmental protection through planting grass and flowers, in addition to creating pathways in the school.

The school had small land and she convinced the parents to contribute sh500 each and the money was used to buy two acres. Part of the land was transformed into a playground for pupils to engage in co-curricular activities.

“It was embarrassing for us to have land but buy some of the foodstuffs,” Lunyolo says. Thus, the other part of the land was used to establish a school garden. The food from the garden was used to feed pupils and teachers. “Parents contributed firewood and paying the school cook,” she says.

The school also had dilapidated classroom blocks and Lunyolo mobilised parents who contributed sh500 each that was used to renovate a three-classroom block.

The interventions caused the school population to increase from 220 to 664 in three years. The academic performance also improved.

In 2010, Lunyolo was transferred to Mahonje Primary School, which she says was disorganised.

“The parents never used to contribute towards the development of the school and education of their children,” she says.

Lunyolo held a parents meeting and outlined her priorities and requested for their support for the betterment of the school.

“They responded positively. I requested that they contribute towards the renovation of the dilapidated classroom blocks and each contributed sh2,000 towards that cause,” she says.

Lunyolo also requested the district education office to construct more classroom blocks and latrines, which was done.

Later, she also requested parents to contribute sh2,000 towards the construction of a staff house.

“All the teachers, including the headteacher, were commuting from far. When Lunyolo explained to us, we realised it was the cause of absenteeism and late coming. The previous headteachers never involved us in the school matters, so we had no idea that we had a role to play in the running of the school,” Elizabeth Nabafu, one of the former parents, says.

She adds that after the construction of the staff houses, teacher absenteeism was no more. Parents also contributed towards school feeding.

In just a short time, the population Lunyolo found at 700 shot up to 1,063. She says the increased population called for more latrines.

Lunyolo wrote a proposal to an non-governmental organisation (NGO) that constructed a five-stance latrine and a water tank. Another NGO also contributed sh8m which was used to construct an eight-stance latrine with washrooms for girls.

In the same school, Lunyolo graded the compound and planted trees.

In 2017, she was posted to Busiu Primary School as a headteacher.

She explains the enrolment of girls was low, which she attributed to a lack of latrines. Lunyolo wrote a proposal to NGOs that had supported her while at Mahonje and they constructed washrooms with three latrines for girls.

Lunyolo shows one of the renovated buildings at Busiu Primary School. She has worked with parents, teachers and donors to develop schools.

Mobilising Funds

The classrooms were few, with some accommodating as many as 150 pupils. This was because some classrooms were not usable as they were on the verge of collapse.

The same NGO gave the school sh24m, which was used to renovate a four-classroom block and offices.

Aida Masolo, the chairperson of SMC, says before Lunyolo was posted to the school, 80% of the structures were dilapidated and some had rotten roofs, while some floors had big holes.

“Lunyolo renovated the school with the funds she mobilised from NGOs,” Masolo says.

She also requested the district to construct more latrines for the school.

“Before, pupils were sharing latrines with teachers. However, today they use separate latrines,” she says.

Lunyolo also enhanced supervision of teachers and now the school produces first grades.

Susan Lunyolo, the deputy headteacher, says when the headteacher joined the school, there was no teacher motivation. Teachers had to contribute towards their own feeding and getting teaching aids was a problem.

“When Lunyolo joined, she introduced free feeding for staff as well as rewards for the best performing teachers. She delegates some of the work to us. We now feel the school is ours and we teach wholeheartedly,” she says.

Susan says Lunyolo mobilised parents who contributed to the construction of a staffroom.

“We now have a place to sit and mark pupil’s work and make teaching schemes,” Susan says.

Geoffrey Wanda, the chairperson of the Parent-Teacher Association, says Lunyolo has caused parents to love the school and this has increased the learner population.

During the parents’ meetings, Lunyolo emphasises the value of education, especially for the girl child.

Linda Constance Musungu, the principal education offi cer of Mbale, describes Lunyolo as a headteacher who finds a school in a shambles and restores it.

Musa Musamali, an LC5 councillor in Mbale, says it is because of her initiative that the school has a fence and a gate. He says the school was free entry and exit for everyone, hence the property would be vandalised.

“With the fence and a watchman at the gate, security for our children is guaranteed,” he says.

Since the school also has enough land, Lunyolo introduced gardening to produce food for the school.

She wrote a proposal to another NGO that contributed an ox-plough, watering cans and hoes.

In seasons when the school has not produced the food, each parent contributes 10kg of flour and 5kg of beans per term for feeding at school.

The school also had no electricity, pupils, especially the candidates, would not have early morning classes. Lunyolo ensured the school was connected to the power grid, especially for the library and classrooms and pupils can now revise without interruption.

She has also connected the school to the national water grid.

This has ensured a constant supply of water

Fact File

  • Lunyolo was born in 1964.
  • She attended Busiu Primary School, where she sat her Primary Leaving Examinations in 1980.
  • She then went to Nkoma Secondary School and completed Senior Four in 1984.
  • Lunyolo proceeded to Nyondo Primary Teachers’ College, completing in 1992.

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