Her eyes were on the library prize

Ntege says she believes she has done so much more for society as an unmarried woman than she could have done as a married one. PHOTOS | ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • Time off routine.  Monica Ntege retired in April 2021 from Uganda Christian University (UCU). Ntege tells Esther Tusiime Byoona about her journey.

After her final exams at Makerere University in 1977, Monica Ntege went to look for job at the Ministry of Education.  While there, she  discovered that the permanent secretary was her former Biology teacher from Nabisunsa Girl’s School.

“I had not made an appointment so, his secretary refused to let me into his office, but I insisted. I  needed a job. So, she went to his office and talked to him about a small girl who wanted to see him and I was allowed in,” she recalls.

Ntege says her teacher recognised her and they talked.

“I told him I had completed my exams and needed a job in a library. I persuaded him about the function of a library and he took notes,” she recounts.

The  secretary typed a letter to the head teacher of Kibuli Secondary School.  Ntege  had to deliver  the letter which earned her a job after the head teacher had read it. She enjoyed her time there  because she worked with the school head to build a reputable library.

Ntege with some of her adopted children.

Ntege conducted library lessons with every class every term.

“I used to teach students how to classify books and how to find books without the librarian’s assistance. I taught them to be independent readers and they had to write a literature review of the book they had read and I marked the reviews,” she speaks with nostalgia, adding that she worked closely with the  head of department of English to ensure students were taking instructions. She also started teaching General Paper and headed the Christian community at the school. In June 1988, Monica she felt her time in Kibuli SS was done. 

Changing jobs

Ntege then joined Bishop Tucker Theological College, Mukono as assistant librarian. She and her senior held diplomas from Makerere University because at the time there was no Bachelor’s degree.

In 1996, she went to study at Loughborough University, UK. The principal of Bishop Tucker allowed her to go for further studies while she had also worked it out with the Provincial Church of Uganda to enable her  to get a scholarship from World Council of churches.

Ntege completed the one-year degree in Library and Information Science.

After her  degree, Ntege found Uganda Christian University starting  and she wrote back to the World Council of Churches requesting  to be  sponsored for a second degree in Library and Information Science. In 1999, she returned to Loughborough for a one-year course.

The promotion

On return, she was appointed deputy university librarian and with her senior, they recruited more staff since the facility was expanding.

“We had to section our library services and steadily recruited more staff. We were 60 staff  on several campuses,” she says.

In October 2015 Ntege became acting librarian because her senior  resigned. In June the following year,  she was appointed university librarian until her retirement in April 2021.

Retirement  approaches

Asking whether Ntege was ready for retirement she replies in the affirmative adding that she knew retirement was inevitable. In the financial sense, she was trusting God to help her.

In October 2020, she wrote to the human resource office asking them to start the search for her replacement since her retirement was around the corner. 

“I asked the human resource office for a contract of one-and-a-half years because I had to retire on April 23,2021 which they did,” she recounts.

Ntege says she did not know what to expect so she trusted God with retirement. She is grateful to God for the Covid-19 pandemic because it prepared her for retirement.

“The pandemic  gave me a foretaste of retirement,” she says.

Preparations

The retiree says that UCU has structures that help with saving money for retirement of their staff.

“There was the UCU Senior Savings Staff Association and the UCU Staff Savings associations that were not University initiatives but they helped us save the money and grow it, so I knew I would not start my retirement from scratch,” she says.

In retirement, Ntege knew she had to be frugal because she has children to take care of.

The former librarian grew her food to cut on her expenditure. She also started rearing animals on a small scale.

When asked if money is important for retirement, she says money is life and nothing can be done without it. She adds that there must be continuity of life even during retirement.

“Managing my life financially is a nice state of life rather than being a burden to people,”Ntege says.

Missing typical work day?

Ntege says she misses her work day but she is getting over it now.  She  also misses the camaraderie at work. 

“I live near UCU, so some of my former colleagues come by to visit me, but we also talk on Whatsapp and make phone calls,” she says. 

The single lady

Ntege says she believes she has done so much more for society as an unmarried woman than she could have done as a married one. She says through her single life she has looked after so many children including her nieces and nephews plus some students of UCU.

She explains that she has some disposable income to give the needy. She advises women to willingly host and  give children in need a place to call home.

Ntege  does  community work  and has been a Sunday school teacher since the age of 14.

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