Tracing some of Uganda’s pioneer nursery schools
Posted Thursday, August 21 2014 at 01:00
Although many people have started taking great interest in pre-school institutions in the last few years, nursery education in this country has been around for many years. Part V and the last of the series looks at some of the pioneer nursery schools in the country.
Holy Rosary Kindergarten
Forty-five years, down the road, Holy Rosary Kindergarten, one of the first nursery schools to be established in northern Uganda, is still up and running. Located at Holy Rosary Catholic Parish, Pece Division in Gulu Municipality, the school was established in November 1969 by the Comboni Christian Missionaries.
Sister Mary Angelino Akello, the first head teacher of the school, says it was opened as a religious nursery school to lay a good foundation of learning and impacting knowledge to children with the aim of preaching the word of God. Sr Akello says then there was also need to enrol children in school given the fact that children joined Primary One without being prepared. The school started with only 75 pupils, who were then a mixture of Indians, British and various tribes within the country.
Currently, the school has 200 pupils, who are attending studies at the nursery section. Over the years, more than 3,000 pupils have undergone studies from Holy Rosary Kindergarten.
Unifat Nursery School
Upper Nile Institute for Appropriate Technology (UNIFAT) Nursery School, has come a long way, considering that it started its journey under a tree. The school was established in 1988 by Rebecca Odongkara Abitimo, on her return from United States of America where she was living in exile during Idi Amin’s regime.
Odongkara says the school was established in 1988 under a tree with only nine pupils. It was located at senior quarter behind the presidential lodge in Laroo Division, Gulu Municipality. It is now located in Bardege Division. Over the years, Ms Abitimo estimates that more than 1,500 pupils have attended the school. She says it currently has 172 children.
The school’s first head teacher was George Oywelo who served for more than 20 years. Some of the well-known people who have attended UNIFAT nursery school include Willy Nyeko who is and Byron Wadegtii, working with Ministry of finance.
Christ the King Nursery
The works of the missionaries have continued to bear fruits, especially in the education sector in Arua District. One of these fruits is Christ the King Nursery and Primary School that was started in 1962 by the Verona Sisters. Initially it was started at Ediofe Cathedral, located about one kilometre from Arua town where many of the missionaries had settled.
It was basically started to give the children who had no hope of going to school, a basic education. The headmistress, Alice Inzikuru, says: “The school today has a population of 340 children drawn from various parts of Arua municipality and other parts of Uganda.”
“They (Verona) sisters also wanted to instil spiritual nourishment to the children whose parents were being prepared for Holy matrimony or the sacrament of confirmation,” she says.
The nursery school children are offered spiritual guidance with days dedicated for them to have mass where they have a vibrant school choir. The school began with 12 children but was shifted to town in 1964 with 35 children after the missionary sisters decided that it be turned into a full nursery school.
The nursery school which belongs to the Christ the King parish, has since established a primary section and authorities are in the process of stating a secondary section.
Some of the prominent people who have passed through the nursery school include the former MP for Arua municipality Nasur Okuti, and Chris Alema, the manager of West Nile Women Association.
Lions Nursery School
The Lions Nursery School, opened in 2004, could be the oldest nursery school in Masaka. There, of course, used to be children’s daycare centres in the town before but they were never really set up according to the recommended government standards of a nursery school. Many were attached to primary schools and generally lacked the required facilities.
According to Dr Herman Musiitwa, the foundation chairman of the nursery school (pictured above), it was built by the Lions Club of Masaka in conjunction with Lions Club International.
“We put up the nursery school so that the children can be in a happy and safe environment where they play and learn.”
It is a community nursery located along Edward Avenue and near the Centenary Bank in Masaka Town with a pupil population of about 400 children.
“The parents have to pay fees because it has to be sustained,” Dr Musiitwa told this newspaper.
Mbarara Kindergarten founded 30 years ago is the first nursery school in Mbarara District. It was founded by Ms Winnie Mpabwa, a primary school teacher. “There were no nursery schools in Mbarara, I saw the need and started one,” she says.
She first operated the school from a garage at her home in Ntare Kamukuzi, Mbarara, teaching children of civil servants and businessmen who were living in the area.