When I walked into Dr Kedrace Turyagyenda’s office on this chilly Monday morning, it was clear she is a very busy woman. Several people are waiting to speak to her, documents to sign and briefs to give, among others. The current director at the Directorate of Education Standards (DES), reveals that the activities are typical of her day. The PhD holder from Nkumba University says she took on this job to help teachers.
Dr Turyagyenda is herself a teacher by profession. Her teaching journey started in 1979 upon joining Makerere University where she enrolled for a Bachelor’s degree in Science with a c-current Diploma in Education. She incorporated her undergraduate studies with teaching practice at Bweranyangi Girls’ Senior Secondary School located in Bushenyi District and Busoga College, Mwiri.
After completing her degree in 1982, Turyagyenda started teaching Chemistry and Mathematics at Bweranyangi Girls in July that year.
“Those days, teachers were in high need. There were always opportunities upon one completing university, and, this was how I immediately managed to get a job,” she says. “I was the only Chemistry and Mathematics teacher for A-Level conducting 30 lessons on a weekly basis,” she adds.
After serving two years at Bweranyangi Girls’, she was posted as the pioneer headteacher of Kinyasano Girls’ High School in Rukungiri District.
“It was not a popular school at the time and in order to get it off the ground, I mobilised parents and other members from the community for resources,” she says, adding, “It later produced great women who are serving this nation in various ways.”
Turyagyenda served as headmistress at the school from 1984 to 1987 after which she joined the National Teachers College (NTC), Kabale, where she worked for 16 years rising through the ranks of senior lecturer, head of Chemistry and finally serving as head of science department.
Turyagyenda, the trainer
“In these respective capacities, I was training teachers of Chemistry, and, the college managed to produce excellent science teachers. I focused on teaching this subject because it has a multiplier effect. I wanted to impact and change people’s lives. All those who attended my Chemistry classes have progressed to get higher qualifications,” he says.
Recently, Turyagyenda says she met one of her former NTC students who is now a medical doctor with a master’s degree. “And during our brief encounter, he told me that attending the classes made him realise that science subjects were passable and he was proof of that,” she says.
Serving at NTC became the stepping stone that led Turyagyenda to being a commissioner in charge of secondary standards in 2004 before eventually crossing over as DES director in 2017. The PhD in education management, which she acquired in 2014, making her a top manager.
Handling the few obstacles
A mother of four, Turyagyenda says she hardly noticed challenges in her journey. “I was very passionate about teaching and committed to the job that I barely sat down to contemplate on problems in the profession,” she says, adding, “And for the few problems I noticed, I considered them stepping stones towards making me better at the job.”
The only problem that seemed to stand out in her teaching journey was the lack of enough science facilities since the subjects require integration of both practical and theory lessons. The problem was predominant both at Kinyasano Girls’ High School and at NTC, Kabale.
“To try and resolve the problem, I always tried to utilise the little funds the respective school administrators had to acquire the equipment we needed,” she says.
In terms of mentorship, Turyagyenda says she would try and assist the science teachers in whatever possible ways she could, including guiding them on what to teach and resolve arising issues.
Lessons and advice
Turyagyenda says her guiding principles were drawn from both her parents (who never attained formal education) but who were hardworking, committed as well as results-oriented.
“I incorporated these same values into my teaching journey and it is the reason I excelled at both my teaching and administrative work,” she says.
She was motivated to teach because of the undeniable fact that the profession modelled individuals and made it possible for them to reach their God-given potential to develop themselves, become productive and contribute towards the development of their families, communities and the nation.
“Every child matters and has potential to achieve in a conducive environment where they are loved, appreciated and facilitated by their teachers,” she says.
Her humble appeal to all teachers is to love their work and unlock the potential of every learner.
Her take on science subjects
“I feel very bad whenever results are released and students have performed poorly in science subjects. I think it is because students just have a negative mentality towards these subjects, yet, they are very passable. I believe that more students will start passing if they develop a more possible attitude towards these them.”