Eighteen years of Brother Augustine Mugabo at SHACK; A teacher who sees no life outside the teaching world

By. BRIAN MUGENYI

Lessons are done. The college is filled with constant verbal sounds from students moving left to right enjoying an evening sunshine and a great piece of works from the College’s portraits in the compound of St Henry’s College that has lived up for the last centenary years.

The service, atmosphere and foods are in high gear in the dining room and a sizable number of schoolboys are seen filling their stomachs.

There is a mixture of boys, however, playing trumpets behind the building that harbours head teachers office. Surrounded by hanging historical portraits on the wall, classic furniture and bookcases, he takes a seat on a highly decorated carved-back chair.

This is the soft-spoken Brother Augustine Mugabo, 48-years-old, smiling ear-to-ear at the table, the Head teacher of St Henrys College- Kitovu (SHACK), also a boy’s government aided college in Masaka which was founded by White Fathers in 1922.

Mugabo is a teacher of English language and literature who has been in the teaching profession in the last thirteen years. Although, he is not comfortable to disclose the detailed description about his family background because of sentimental reasons, he is quick to say that he hails from Kabwoko village, Masaka City.

And if the word literature is the one to go with, he Mugabo cannot live without literature. Literature is part of his life and it’s the same message he usually inculcate in as many students he has taught since then.

“I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and decide responsibly. This to me is a miracle,” he started off by saying.

Mugabo narrates that after attending schools; Bishop Ddungu Primary School, St Johns Kabwoko and St Charles Lwanga- Kasasa respectively, he was always a star waiting in the wings to walk his way in the education sector because he loved reading books and teaching under the sun.

Beginning as a licensed teacher, at  the age of 17 after sitting senior four, it was during his vacation when he started teaching under the funding of government at St Cecilia girl’s primary school, Villa Maria, in 1992.

Back then, he was paid a monthly salary of shs: 2000 but money was never his first priority. Teaching was the key and still lives by it as a life conundrum.

Leader of Opposition Mpuuga credited by St Henry’s College Kitovu Head Teacher Brother Augustine Mugabo and Masaka Diocese Bishop Slaverus Jjuumba for contributing shs 20m recently.

“I was young, but hard- working and passionate. I never desired to do anything in this world apart from teaching and I don’t think I can be comfortable outside the teaching world,” he declares.

He adds that he advanced and enrolled into religious life as a member of the brothers of Christian instruction. So, he studied religions formation first that involves; philology, philosophy and biblical lessons.

“Throughout my childhood, I could look after cows at home and my father was also a teacher too. My desire to be a teacher lingered and I developed a small book where I could formulate names of pupils for example; Brian, Brenda and others and many a times I could imagine I am in class, giving them marks,” he astonishingly says.

Between 1998 and 2000, he explains that in order to expand his horizons, he was able to join Ibanda Secondary School.  While there, he was a go-getter, who never wanted to stay too long in the same place and moved to St Edwards- Bukuumi, Kibaale District,

“I had mastered the art of teaching, so I went in for further education, just in case there’s more opportunities ahead, I thought those qualifications would help me move forward,” he recalls.

Thereafter, he went for studies at Kyambogo University where he attained a bachelor’s degree of Arts with Education in 2005.

During his first-semester at the University, he also taught 30 days at St Leos- Kyegobe secondary school in Fort portal District.

“I continued to believe in myself. My teachers for example Mrs Beatrice Kibirige, a teacher whom I picked most of my teaching inspirations also continued to encourage me,” Mugabo noted.

Mugabo joined St Henry’s college-Kitovu in 2005 where his teaching hunger and commitment guided him to be appointed deputy head teacher.
It was never going to stop from there for him and after seven years later in service, he was elevated to the top seat of head teacher until now.

“To be a head teacher you must be a servant of servants. Just like any leader in any position. You see, in such circumstances you must be ready to serve different people at ago. These people have different cultural backgrounds and interests which require you to be in position to listen more and speak less, “, Mugabo, who also went in for a Master’s degree and graduated in 2010 in Washington University, USA stated.

“Headship involves being an innovative character because you must plan for an institution. You’re a coordinator. You coordinate the Minister of Education, the foundation body, and the institution plus the community and they all have different interests. Above all, the school must move in the proper direction because you must be accountable in all fields, though many believe that accountability is just about money.”

At this college, Mugabo says in the their ten year strategic plan that runs exerted much emphasis on holistic education and parents wouldn’t just bring children for the sake of passing exams with flying colours, but as teachers, they demand for a complete human being.

“Character formation is one of the things I emphasize most in my teachings. My role is to produce acceptable individuals in the society. A person who is complete cognitively and acceptable,” he says.

Being a fourteenth head teacher since the beginning of the Kitovu College, Mugabo who joined the college that had a population of 900 students eighteen years ago says, there has been a transition academically and today, they boast over 1300 students.

Working collectively as a band with 80 teachers, the school has blossomed in his tenure attracting thousands of students in both O &A-level, and as you read this, the college is filled to capacity.

“I normally give first consideration from people in Masaka only that some people when they don’t give us first choice I don’t take them. I tell them to go where they put their first choice,” said Mugabo.

One of the things that have fueled his management services in the college is the ability to learn from his fellow teachers, parents, and school board and the old students themselves.

“I am not the custodian of knowledge. But every day I seek knowledge from those surrounding me,” he added.

Considering the Uganda’s teaching curriculum today, Mugabo faults the government for rotating most of their attention on science students saying not every successful person has to be a scientist.

“We are not all gifted in science area. The door must be open, because we need art. Historians are the doctors of the society. History alone helps us to plan. The books we read are about society so the doctors can’t handle the challenges of the society. Yes, you’re in medicine, but when it comes to society you can’t handle its challenges,” he observed.

Through skilling in Uganda is very important but the ministry of education should move from theory into practicals because if you say everyone should do computer in schools, and yet you have not provided them, students will not learn.

“The government policy of skilling is very good but it lacks the practical part of it. If funds can allow, all schools including those under private ownership should be beneficiaries of government support,” he advised.

In line with emphasizing practical lessons among students, Mugabo has exerted energy on disciplines such as Technical Drawing (TD) and Music which he says today, people are earning a lot of money out of their talents a case in point being the College’ alumni Charles Peter Mayiga currently the Buganda Kingdom’s premier.

“The standard of the school required by the church here must be reached. We advocate for quality education and I appreciate my technical staff and great support from the Catholic Church and no one is after making money here like some schools do,” he shared.