When I reach Benjamin Asiimwe’s home in Ngarama Sub-county, Isingiro District, he is quick to ask if I am one of his former students or a teacher. Point is, it is not uncommon for random people to come to his home seeking advice from his wealth of teaching experience.
Since his retirement in 2015, after 34 years of teaching, Asiimwe’s home has become an unofficial ‘school’ for teachers who come to tap into the knowledge of a man who spent 25 years as a head teacher of different schools.
After graduation in 1980 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Botany and Zoology, Asiimwe taught Biology at Ibanda Secondary School in Ibanda District for two years.
“I was not a professional teacher, but Ibanda nurtured me into one which saw Ntare School pick me up to beef up their Science department; a job I held for eight years,” he says.
After discovering his teaching ability, Asiimwe decided to reaffirm it by enrolling for a Postgraduate Diploma in Education at Makerere University majoring in Biology and Geography.
He graduated in 1988 and was in 1990 appointed the head teacher of Birere Secondary School in Isingiro District. “My appointment in the early stages in the profession was a bit challenging but I tactfully employed two principles to manage employees who had a rich experience at the time,” he recounts. He was later transferred to Kihanda Secondary School in 1998 as a head teacher where he served for 17 years before his retirement in February 2015.
The retired teacher says he was born in 1955 in Kabale, Ngarama in Isingiro District to Geresum Butamanya and Ester Butamanya, (both deceased).
He started school at Ngarama Church of Uganda Primary School in 1961 up to 1969 when he joined Kigaragara Primary School where he completed his Primary Seven in 1970.
He joined Kitunga High School in Ntungamo District in 1971 for his O-Level before joining Makerere College School for A-Level where he studied Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Sub-Maths before joining Makerere University in 1997.
Asiimwe says two tips that will certainly make head teachers succeed are transparency and respect for his subordinates. He also prides in encouraging dialogue with students.
It is this that helped him to relate easily with students and the community in which Birere Secondary School, the first school he headed. “In the eight-year period I spent at the school, I had established friendship not only in the school but mutual understanding with the entire community,” he states.
After 16 years of service at Kihanda Secondary School, Asiimwe says he comfortably retired in a bid to spare time for his family, his projects and rest in his old age.
But his retirement has become a continuous service. “I receive five to 10 teachers per month some checking on me, their previous head and others seeking administrative skills as well as science teachers researching about Botany and Zoology in quest of knowledge, guidance and advice on administration,” he shares.
One thing Asiimwe prides himself in for his 34-year journey, is that he did not cane any student. “It is not that these students would not misbehave but I would settle issues through dialogue.” To the administrators, the experienced head teacher says, being transparent, especially in financial issues, respectful to both subordinates and students are the goals to a chaos-free career.
What others say
“He became a father away from my father. After Senior Six, I had no money to pay university tuition but he gave me an opportunity as a laboratory attendant at the school for three years. I made some money and I am soon graduating with a Bachelor’s in Education.”
Dickens Munyarugyerero, former student
“He was an intelligent administrator as well as very caring. He always paid attention to students’ issues. That is why students nicknamed him uncle daddy because he was indeed a father.”
Amon Kandiho, former student
“His prowess in both administration and teaching was exceptional. He would resolve matters with students without involving third parties. He was more of a parent than teacher.”