Rakai school fire: Head teacher’s transfer sparks debate

Wednesday January 30 2019

The dormitory complex that caught fire at  St

The dormitory complex that caught fire at St Bernard’s Secondary School, Mannya in Rakai District last year. PHOTO BY JOSEPH MUGUMYA  


Some parents who lost their children in last November’s inferno at St Bernard’s Mannya Secondary School in Rakai District have welcomed the transfer of the head teacher, saying “it was timely”.
Mr Henry Nsubuga, who served as head teacher at the school for only nine months, is one of the 69 head teachers who have been moved to other schools in the latest transfers announced by the Ministry of Education and Sports last week.
Mr Sam Kuloba, the Commissioner of Secondary Education, said the transfers are aimed at improving efficiency in the schools.
Some parents allege that while superintending over St Bernard’s school, Mr Nsubuga exhibited high level of negligence which partly contributed to death of their children.
A total of 11 Senior Three students perished in the November 11 inferno at the school that also left 49 students with varying degrees of injuries.
“Transferring Mr Nsubuga is very good and I believe he will take it in good faith because he somehow failed to do his work as an administrator. I am sure his successor knows what befell our school last November and will work towards avoiding similar incidents in future,” Mr Expedito Mpakani, the father to late Maurice Basiita, said.
Mr Nsubuga has been transferred to Uganda Martyrs Secondary School, Kibaale in Kibaale District.
He will be replaced by Mr Geoffrey Alisengaha, who has been the deputy head teacher at St Mark Secondary School in Wakiso District.

Not the solution
However, Mr Luke Mukalazi, the father to late Brian Ssendyowa of Ddwaniro Sub-county in Rakai District, insists that transferring the head teacher may not be a solution to the school’s problems if other managerial issues are not addressed.
“His [Mr Nsubuga] transfer was indeed timely, but all we need is a complete overhaul of the school and all the key challenges faced by the school must be addressed,” he said.
St Bernard’s school has suffered a management crisis in its top ranks ever since Masaka Diocesan authorities transferred Fr Nestus Mugisha, the former Mannya Parish priest, who was instrumental in mobilising funds to improve school infrastructure. He was transferred to Buyaga Parish.
In the aftermath of the school inferno, security sources said they had expanded investigations into the possibility that the inferno was a result of managerial conflict, contrasting with earlier claims by the school authorities that suspended unruly Senior Four students were the likely masterminds.
In the last three years, the school has had four head teachers and the two were transferred under unclear circumstances and allegedly at the behest of the diocese.
When asked about what could be the reason behind Mr Nsubuga’s transfer, Mr John Baptist Kimbowa, the Rakai District Education Officer, said this was a normal transfer effected by the line ministry.
“His [Mr Nsubuga] transfer was normal, according to the information we got. If there’s any other reason, then it’s the Ministry of Education to explain more,” he said on yesterday.
However, Mr Nsubuga did not pick repeated telephone calls from this newspaper.
Ms Rose Nalubowa, a school board member, protested the Ministry’s decision, claiming that the foundation body (Catholic Church) was not consulted.
“In a period of three years, the ministry has given us four head teachers and moreover bringing a deputy to be promoted in such a big school which has had problems. We are yet to sit and see how to resolve this issue, but we don’t agree with the decision,” she said.

However, Mr Ben Nuwamanya, the Rakai District Police Commander, said police managed to gather all the necessary information they needed from Mr Nsubuga about the school inferno and will be summoned when there is need.
“The good thing is that he is not moving out of the country .If we need him, we shall summon him ,” he said