Mr Simon Mwebe, 78, has been teaching for the last 54 years and he is not about to stop anytime soon.
“I love my learners and they in turn love me, so I enjoy teaching,” he said during a recent interview with this newspaper.
This writer is among the students Mr Mwebe taught English at the beginning of his teaching career at St Charles Lwanga Kasasa in Masaka District, five decades ago. To date, Mr Mwebe teaches with the same enthusiasm, humour and sense of drama that always characterised his lessons. He has taught English and other subjects in many primary and secondary schools, as well as teachers’ training colleges.
Between 1971 and 1975, he taught English and History at Ntare School in Mbarara before he was transferred to Nkozi Primary Teachers College, which later transformed into Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, where he taught Foundation of Education and Luganda.
But at the peak of his career in the mid-1970s, during Idi Amin’s regime, Mr Mwebe went into exile in Kenya and took abroad his skills, becoming an examiner with the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC).
“The country was politically unstable towards the end of Idi Amin’s rule and I went with my family to Nairobi, Kenya, where I was employed by the Teachers Service Commission and posted to Garaba Tura High School in Eastern Kenya. My wife Theresa was also employed in a nearby primary school,” he says.
In 1988 , there was a recruitment of teachers to teach at Kabarak High School founded by then President Daniel arap Moi. Mr Mwebe was one of the lucky few recruited to teach English and History at the school. In 1994 , Mr Mwebe returned to Uganda and became a tutor at Kyamaganda Primary Teachers College in Lwengo District. Soon, he and six other teachers left to establish their own Kinoni Integrated Secondary School in Kinoni Town, where he still occasionally teaches English. Mr Mwebe has a home at Nkoni on the Masaka- Mbarara highway in Kingo Sub-county, Lwego District, where he has also set up a petrol station to supplement his teaching income.
Mr Mwebe was later recruited by Bright Grammar Boarding Primary School in Masaka Municipality where he has been teaching for the last 17 years, and the school has been among the best performing schools in Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) for several years.
Mr Denis Mulema Ssinsonga, the school’s head teacher, attributes the success to Mr Mwebe. “We have some of the most experienced teachers in the country. One of them is Mr Mwebe, who has been teaching English for long in both Uganda and in Kenya,” he said.
“He has been teaching at this school for the last 17 years. He is knowledgeable and very obedient,” he added.
When Saturday Monitor visited the school, Mr Mwebe was conducting an English lesson in Primary Six A, where he taught the pupils how to use the ‘present perfect continuous tense - active voice of verbs.’
The children clearly enjoyed the lively lesson in which he kept asking them to make sentences some of which he wrote on the blackboard. He then walked about among the pupils inspecting their work and ensuring they were writing their notes correctly.
About Mr Mwebe
Mr Mwebe was born on January 24 ,1939, at Bweruga village, Kirumba Sub-county, Rakai District. He attended St John’s Junior Secondary School - Kabwoko, from where he performed well and won a scholarship from Masaka Coffee Growers Cooperative Union to study at St Henry’s College Kitovu.
“My parents and teachers wanted me to pursue a medical course after my O-Level but I personally wanted to be a school teacher. Fortunately, the school head teacher then, Brother John Leonard, was supportive and he recommended me to join the Brothers of Christian Instruction Teacher Training College at Mt St Theresa Kisubi where I qualified as a Grade Three teacher in 1963.”
Mr Mwebe was posted to St Charles Lwanga Junior Secondary School, Kasasa. By that time in Uganda, Primary School education took only six years, then another two years at Junior Secondary School after which students joined Senior Secondary School. Junior Secondary was phased out in1966 when primary school education was extended to seven years.
After Kasasa, Mr Mwebe taught in a number of primary schools in Masaka District before joining Makerere University in 1968 to pursue a degree course in History and English and a concurrent Diploma in Education.
what Mwebe’s students say
1. Mereciane Nakigudde, former pupil. A former pupil at Bright Grammar Boarding Primary School, Nakigudde who works for a pharmaceutical company, says Mr Mwebe taught her poetry in Primary Five and they always looked forward to his lessons because they were always lively and enjoyable. “He may be an old man , but you could see that he was extremely energetic, intelligent, and so knowledgeable.
2. Priscilla Nakyanzi, P7 pupil. Mr Mwebe teaches us English Comprehension and we all enjoy his lessons. He was our teacher of English in Primary Six and he taught us sentence construction, poetry, and lots of other things. He is good, kind and polite.
3. Naweed Nsamba, P7 pupil. He is a very kind and interesting teacher who dramatises all his lessons. We find it easy to follow and understand whatever he teaches us. I am a Primary Seven candidate and I am sure every one of us is prepared enough to score very high marks in English because he has taught us everything we need to know.