There was a time when strikes were so rampant at Jinja Secondary that some parents were quick to brand non-boarding schools a no-go option when choosing schools for their pupils.
But little did they know that history has everything to tell about the legacy that came to be identified with one of the oldest and biggest schools in East and Central Africa.
When Jinja SS was formed in 1948 it was formed as Government Indian School to serve the high population of Indians in Jinja and it was envisaged to be exclusively for the then emerging business class of Ugandans of Indian origin.
“However, soon after independence in 1962 government as a policy encouraged African students to join the school. It was renamed Jinja Senior Secondary School,” William Ongom Olara, an old student and now a teacher at the school explained.
This made Jinja SS a government school but the policy of allowing African students join and freely fuse in with Indian students did not go down well with the Indian Community.
“They resisted the presence of African students in the school, and a strike by African students was staged. Many Asian students and teachers were injured. An amicable agreement was reached when Madhvani family funded the establishment of Pavertben Muljibhai Madhvani Girls’ School to cater for the Indian girls as an annex of Jinja Senior Secondary School,” he explains from the school’s history.
But one of the underlying issues at this high school was that the Indian community was particularly uncomfortable with Indian girls mixing and perhaps later getting into a relationship with African boys, which was abominable in this culture.
“The Indian have abandoned the school. The school that started out as all Indian has only two Indians and two Pakistanis,” Ongom added.
The reason of the fight for purity by the Indian community has come to pass for the school which currently boasts of a student population of 4,294 students only has two Indians. The school sits on quite an expanse of land, of 12.44 hectares, school teaching staff of up to 130, 20 non-teaching staff and 43 group employees.
And up and until 2008 strikes persisted at this school but the incoming head teacher, Diana Hope Nyago was able to create channels of listening to students as a measure of deterring situations of violence that were partly rooted in poor communication between the students and school administration.
With the return of sanity to Jinja Senior Secondary School so did academic success where Ongom said that the school last years produced students that have made it to university in big numbers.
“We have also excelled in sports at secondary school and regional level, in football, basketball, netball and volleyball,” the school’s deputy general secretary Old Students’ Association (JICOSA), adds.
For 53 years the Ordinary level (O’ level) was an only boys’ level until 2001 when J.P Kaddu, as headmaster, introduced girls at the O’ level. The motto reads, The Might School’ which could be explained by its size for it sits on an approximated 13 hectares of land.