When I approach the Primary Six class at St Charles Lwanga Kyotera Primary School, all I hear are voices singing. Nobody would blame you if you mistook it for a music class. However, on listening closely to the chorused response from the pupils, I notice that they are singing multiplication tables and that this is in fact a mathematics lesson going on.
I found them singing, “….Aaaaa nnya munaana kkumi na bbiriiii kkumi na mukaagaa abiri, abiri mu nnya, abirimu munaana, asatu mu bbiri asatu mu mukaaga makumi ana…..” This is how Peter Sennono Mwanje teaches Mathematics, which he says is intended to make it easier and interesting.
The 39-year-old has more than 40 songs which are composed relating to the various Mathematics topics.
The Mathematics teacher says he started composing songs related to Maths after realising pupils best learn when taught while relating to everyday activities.
And indeed, as Jimmy Walugembe, a former pupil, testifies, the style worked for him. The statistician at Rakai District says, “While a student at St Cecilia, Mathematics had become the most difficult subject for me until Ssennono was recruited and started teaching us using music.”
Born in Kibaale-Ssanje, then Rakai District, on August 30, 1979, to Xavier Mwanje and Brenda Nalubega, (both deceased), Sennono started school at Kirembwe Primary School in Nabigasa Sub-county, and later St Joseph Ssanje Primary School where he completed his primary level.
He says after Primary Seven, he had given up on education and opted for selling bananas but a sympathetic Joseph Ssegirinya, a trader who learnt about him, offered to pay his school fees. As such, Sennono joined St Mary’s Ssanje for O-Level in 1995 after which he joined Biikira Teacher Training Centre in 1999 where he was awarded a Grade III certificate in 2001. While at St Mary’s Ssanje, Ssennono says he discovered he had talent in composing songs and in fact some of his songs saw them compete at national level.
Ssennono, first taught at St. Cecilia Boarding Primary School, Buyamba in Rakai District from where he joined St Charles Lwanga. He has now taught for 16 years.
Throughout his career, he has not only helped students pass but his specialty in Maths has fetched him good money in facilitating other schools in the district.
“During the examination period, I earn more than Shs1.5m while facilitating candidates from various schools around the district in preparation for their Primary Leaving Examinations,” Ssennono states.
Ssennono says a teacher should be creative and develop ways of motivating his pupils. He further says for students and pupils to love Mathematics, they should see the teacher as an entertainer using activities within their environment such as stories and songs as a guide.