Ms Gertrude Nakalanzi Ssebugwawo is a woman of rare attributes which have made her a darling to those whose names she does not recall off-head.
The strict-looking but courteous-speaking and relatively dark-skinned woman of a medium height, wears spectacles and maintains a short hair style.
Ms Ssebugwawo’s style of dressing portrays her as a cultured mother and a role model to many young people.
Currently in her early 70s, Ssebugwawo was born in a typically rural poor family in Manya Village, Kifamba Sub-county, Rakai District.
She started her career as grade II primary school teacher but in 2008, retired after serving as principal of different teachers’ colleges.
Her admirers describe her as an exceptional teachers’ educator who has nurtured the profession for more than four decades while mentoring thousands.
She started her long-journey of education at the age of seven, at Kifamba Primary School in Rakai; where she recalls meeting Eseza Namyenya who later inspired her to join the teaching profession.
“I liked the traits of that mistress so much. She was an exceptionally smart and loving teacher everybody wanted to associate with,’ she recalls, adding although she got the inspiration in her primary level, it kept growing in her until she achieved the dream.
In 1977, Ssebugwawo joined Buwalasi Primary Teachers’ College in Mbale and later enrolled for a Diploma in Education from Makerere University National Institute of Education-NIE in 1985. She attained a Bachelor’s of Education from Makerere University Kyambogo Campus in 1989 and completed a certificate in Professional Development in 1991.
As a qualified Grade II teacher, Ssebugwawo was first posted to Kawoko Primary School in Mubende District in 1970.
She says that despite making it to the classroom as a qualified teacher; the passion of becoming much better did not die out of her.
As a coincidence unforeseen, she got married to Charles Ssebugwawo (died in 2005), who was serving as a head teacher in the current Kalungu District.
According to her, the relationship came as a blessing in disguise. It opened more doors for her career advancement through further studies and eventually appointment in various high positions within the education sector.
Track of her experience
After her first posting in Mubende, she was in 1970 sent to Sserinya Moslem Primary in Rakai and in 1971 Ssebugwawo was posted to Kalongo Primary School in Kalungu District.
“During those days, you could be posted anywhere around the country because we operated on the notion that; Where there are children is where your work is,” she says.
In 1973 Ssebugwawo was posted Kakoma where she served until 1977. The following year she was transferred to Rakai Primary School.
After serving for five years, she was sent to Kasozi Primary School and in 1982 she was transferred to Bitabago Primary School as a head teacher.
She became a teachers’ trainer at Nkozi PTC in 1985 before being transferred to Rakai Teachers’ College and became the first female coordinator of Rakai Integrated Program-RITEP, which supported teachers with continuous trainings to upgrade.
From serving as Deputy Principal of Misanvu PTC between 1995, Ssebugwawo was eventually appointed Deputy Principal Kabukunge PTC between 1996-1998 and later caretaker principal for Kabulasoke up to 2000.
From then till her official retirement in 2008, Ssebugwawo served as Deputy Principal Outreach Programme at Ndegeya Core PTC.
Although she officially retired from public service, she is still actively engaged in the direct management of Nyendo Progressive Primary, as a founding director.
Throughout her career, Ssebugwawo has got a lasting legacy and good track record, attested by her former students, parents and fellow teachers.
Most evident among the many are the three standing blocks at Kabulasoke, Rakai and Nkozi PTCs that were named after her name in appreciation of her great services.
Before government awarded her with a Nalubaale medal in 2013, in appreciation of her contribution in the education sector, Ssebugwawo had served as the first female prime minister for Kooki chiefdom, and now a permanent representative in the Buganda Kingdom great Lukiiko at Mengo.
Recently, the Anglican authorities of West Buganda appointed her as the diocesan education coordinator. “I now work on schedule to ensure that I diligently perform all responsibilities entrusted to me, because I could not decline after being singled out as a person of importance,” she says.
Advice to the girl child
In line of her Anglican faith, Ssebugwawo has for many years served as women leader at her local church and a parish treasurer.
She also spearheaded the creation of Rakai District Women’s Development group that aspire to transform lives of mothers.
Asked on how she has managed to reach those heights, Ssebugwawo reveals that besides prayer which is her priority, she has also mastered the art of perseverance and always remained committed to all responsibilities.
Women and girls she says, must be encouraged to be assertive, bold and remain focused on their aspiration instead of showering them with sympathies that weaken their stances.
Tomorrow, read about Dr Lilian Mary Nabulime, a senior lecturer, who has used sculptures to communicate important messages for 20 years.