May 18, 2024
TEACHERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Nassiwa Revamps St Maria Goretti

(This article was first published in the New Vision on August 24, 2022)

By Umar Nsubuga

When Teddy Nassiwa was deployed to head St Maria Goretti Senior Secondary School Katende in Mpigi district in 2018, she was determined to replicate the successes she had achieved in other schools.

However, one challenge stood in her way — lack of transparency in the management of the school’s financial resources — which cost the institution a lot of money.

In a bid to stop further losses, she introduced financial reforms. No one was allowed to access the school’s funds without a payment voucher, which included an explanation of what they planned to do with the money.

Once one received the money, they were also required to sign an acknowledging receipt.

“This is important because you need every coin if you are to develop a school,” Nassiwa says.

With these reforms, she says the school has saved significant amounts of money from fees collection, allowing her to implement her infrastructural development programme.

Infrastructure

Within four years of being at the school, she has built a new boys’ dormitory at sh386m and it accommodates 300 students. The sh232m girls’ dormitory, which is planned to accommodate the same number of students, is under construction.

A well was also recently drilled at the school, to supplement other sources of water. Nassiwa says the school, which is not connected to the national system, used to purchase water from vendors.

“We are now saving the money we used to spend on the water for other developments. Students used to also lose time fetching water outside the school. They are also safer now,” she adds.

Nassiwa has also built five rainwater harvesting tanks, a kitchen and water-flush toilets, which have improved hygiene. A total of 36 cameras worth sh21m were also recently installed at the school, to enhance security.

The headteacher says putting the school’s accounts in order has also allowed her to keep teachers motivated through timely payment of their salaries and allowances. A total of 35 out of 78 teachers are paid by the school’s board of governors.

Replicating Successes

Nassiwa says she is proud that she is gradually reproducing the successes she achieved at St Denis Ssebugwawo in Ggaba and St Mugaga Secondary School Kiganda in Mubende district.

With a sh10,000 development fee per student paid every term, Nassiwa says she constructed a new classroom block at St Denis Ssebugwawo, where she served as the headteacher between 2010 and 2018. She adds that students used to be taught in shifts due to a lack of classrooms.

She says she also lobbied the Government to build an administration block in 2013. Nassiwa also established a partnership with the Japanese embassy, which she says resulted in the construction of a basketball court, to promote the sport. Before she left the school, she says she had also built the main hall, a boys’ dormitory, a science laboratory and introduced an A’ level section.

As an acting headteacher at St Mugaga Secondary School Kiganda between 2005 and 2010, Nassiwa says she ended the illegal collection of fees by teachers, who had not been paid salaries for nine months before she was posted to the school.

The student population, which was less than 100 in 2005, Nassiwa says, increased to over 500 by the time she was transferred. She says she achieved this by mobilising parents to send children to school and enforcing discipline among students, which restored the confidence of the community in the school.

“We had even started getting first grades for the first time in the history of the school. The student population in A’ level also grew from nine to over 40,” Nassiwa says. She also says she constructed a four-classroom block and a library.

Nassiwa in front the newly constructed boys dormitory.

Growing Food

To cut expenditure on food, Nassiwa has worked with the students to establish a banana plantation on an acre. By tending the banana plantation under the guidance of the agriculture teacher, the headteacher says students pick up practical skills.

The school, which used to have less than 20 Senior Four candidates passing in division one before she was deployed, had 54 in 2020.

“We were among the best schools in the district and girls were the best performers. I have motivated the teachers and facilitated them to help the students excel,” Nassiwa says.

She adds that she mobilised teachers to distribute learning materials that were provided by the Government to the learners during the COVID-19- induced lockdown. Nassiwa says she also facilitated teachers to conduct lessons and assess students through online platforms.

“Some students met with teachers online for lessons, but others could not because they did not have the digital tools and Internet. But they received learning materials,” she adds.

Other Achievements

Nassiwa says she facilitates the school to participate in the district basketball, volleyball and netball competitions.

The school represented Mpigi in the national volleyball and netball tournaments this year. The students also participate in other games, such as chess, table tennis, scrabble and woodball.

Last year, Nassiwa received the Excellency Award from the Mpigi district local government because her school was the best school in executing its performance plan. The schools submit plans to the district, detailing the activities they intend to implement in a particular year. Nassiwa says district officials assess the plan’s implementation status and award scores.

Others Speak

Deogratious Sekyole, Mpigi district education officer

Nassiwa is committed, hard-working, highly innovative and transparent. She is a hands-on leader, who is always looking for ways to improve her school.

Gloria Okunde, teacher

The timely payment of salaries and allowances has promoted teamwork and motivated us. We are working as a unit and are focused on achieving the common goal of transforming the school.

Emmanuel Alikisente, the deputy headteacher in charge of academics

The school has registered an improvement in academics due to her unlimited support.

Edward Sseddembe, a teacher in charge of career guidance

Nassiwa is development-oriented and frugal. The school had never had new buildings since it was set up 55 years ago. But just four years after her deployment, we already have new buildings.

Isaac Mulindwa, a resident

Many changes have happened in a short time. Projects are being completed and new ones are being started

Golden Tips

  • Commitment breeds excellence
  • Use school funds well and you will grow
  • Always be an example to the rest
  • Motivating teachers makes a difference

Fact File

Teddy Nassiwa
  • 1985: Sat Primary Leaving Examinations at Busubizi Demonstration School, Mityana
  • 1989: Sat Uganda Certificate of Education at St Kizito High School Bethany, Mityana
  • 1991: Completed Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education at St Kizito High School Bethany, Mityana
  • 1994: Got a bachelor’s degree in education from Makerere University
  • 1994: Launched teaching career at Stella Maris Nsuube, Buikwe
  • 1996: Teacher at St Joseph’s Naggalama, Mukono
  • 1997: Teacher at St Joseph’s Secondary School Ggaba
  • 2005: Acting head teacher at St Mugaga Secondary School, Kiganda, Mubende
  • 2010: Headteacher at St Denis Ssebugwawo Secondary School Ggaba
  • 2018 to date: Headteacher at St Maria Goretti Katende

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