Monday July 14 2014

Teso’s academic giant comes of age

Students at Teso College Aloet assemble infront of th

Students at Teso College Aloet assemble near the Administration Block after the march Soroti Town at the weekend. Photo by Simon Emwamu 

By Simon Emwamu

Kitgum-It is arguably Teso’s best. It has educated, diligent Ugandans who have served in the top echelons of this nation’s civil service and politics.

However, like most institutions in this sub-region, Teso College Aloet bore the brunt of insurgency and because of this, it has limped and wobbled on. The injuries inflicted by rebellion (1986 to 1993) were worsened by the draining effects of age.
Perhaps it is the reason why the Old Boys, parents and staff of Teso College Aloet assembled at its campus to reflect on the school’s 60 years of existence.

In the years gone-by, it was labelled a dying school but Teso College, located eight kilometres outside Soroti town along the Soroti-Moroto road, surged to reclaim its position among academic giants.

The Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Board of Governors, old students and government have been the strong pillars that saved the school from total collapse. For example, the PTA has built a new dormitory accommodating 150 students while the government, through the African Development Bank, has built a 300-capacity library.

The once dilapidated science labs are also being renovated under the same arrangement
Ironically, even when it hit hard times, the school maintained its stringent pass mark for admittance. This hardline is enshrined in the school’s moto, “Aijaanakin ka Arimarit” which literally means ‘Service and Obedience.’

The founding
The college was founded on July 9, 1954, by Teso local administration, with borrowed funds from Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU). Sir Andrew Cohen, the then British Governor of colonised Uganda, laid the college’s foundation.

Teso’s fallen political icon Cuthbert Obwangor is singled out as one of the forces that gave the impetus to the founding of the school when he and others embraced education. They negotiated the loan agreement with BCU leading to its establishment.
Prior to its secondary school status, the school served as a junior school from 1956 with 190 students.

They were mentored by 31 white teachers with three support staff, until 1958 when it was transformed into Teso College Aloet. Its west wing which initially was Soroti Technical College also served, at one time, as a World War I recruitment centre. It was amalgamated to the east wing on July 1, 1963 . This gave the college a unique setting, non-existent elsewhere.

The incumbent head teacher, Mr Silvester Ocaatum, has not served out all the years of the school’s history but he is aware of the trudge the school has made. He talks about the hard times during the insurgency when students and staff fled for safety and the present times when the school is on a bounce.

“The past has haunted this school but we are letting go of that. We are working for the betterment of the school as we celebrate 60 years, to usher us into the century,” Mr Ocaatum says.

Maintaining standards
The current crop of students that go through the school, he says, are equally good like their predecessors and are a hot cake on the job market.

In terms of academic performance, both at O-Level and A-Level, Mr Ocaatum says the school is on the forward march, with majority of candidates passing in Division One and Division Two.

At A-Level, most students, the headmaster says, pass with distinctions and are able to get admitted to a university or tertiary institutions of their choice.

Mr Ocaatum says the old students who had seemingly given the school a cold shoulder are back on board to help it pick up the pieces.

With the Soroti-Moroto road dissecting the school into two, Mr Ocaatum notes that the administration is sort of having two schools in one.

Hence it maintains two generators rumbling as the students study at night (preps), besides the huge number of labourers who maintain the vast compounds.


Wafula Oguttu: The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament
Stephen Besweri Akabway: Former Electoral Commission boss.
Jeje Odongo – The deputy minister of Defence
Joseph Biribonwa: Deputy Electoral Commission chairperson
Ignatius Oluka Akileng: Ministry of Public service,
Prof Justin Opio Epelu – the former deputy Vice Chancellor of Makerere University,
Prof Asibo Opuda: Executive Director of the National Council for Higher Education
Mike Mukula: Soroti Municipality MP