How Ankole diocese uses church structures to promote education

Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa  presents a certificate of appreciation to the head teacher of  Mbarara Junior School Mr Nathan Mugume (2nd R) for outstanding performance at a thanksgiving last year. PHOTO | RAJAB MUKOMBOZI

What you need to know:

  • To make good grades, different schools and their stakeholders have put measures in place to check the quality of education. In Ankole Diocese, the church is heavily involved in monitoring schools they founded ranging from being answerable on absenteeism of pupils or teachers to  the kind of grades  attained.

Whenever school results are out, the buzz bout comparing how different schools performed takes centre stage. This, in turn causes parents to seek advice from different sources on a likely good school for their children. However, have you ever wondered how the quality of schools is arrived at?

In November 2022, the Church of Uganda (COU) diocesan secretaries were in Ankole diocese on an education benchmarking programme. The organisers said this was partly because of the successes the diocese has registered in improving the education sector.

Rev Dr Paul Kakooza, the head of Church of Uganda directorate of education, said during this programme they chose to benchmark schools from Ankole Diocese because it has been a model diocese on education in the province.

“Ankole Diocese is our model diocese when it comes to education. Our coming here will allow members from other dioceses to see the best practices of the education institutions in the diocese especially on issues of their administration and management,” said Rev Dr Kakooza.

In March 2023, the Anglican Province ranked Ankole Diocese the second after Namirembe Diocese in education sector performance among its dioceses across the country.

We caught up with some of the diocese administration members and stakeholders to explore the story behind their success and one of the factors that stood out is the role played by church structures.

The support hierarchy

Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa of Ankole Diocese, said what has been standing in their way to promote education among the church founded schools are the church structures which form a fully -fledged education inspectorate and mobilisation tool for communities and parents to support schools on some developments such as infrastructure and human resource.    

“Apart from government inspectors who are few and unreliable, we have a fully-fledged education inspectorate comprising  the principal inspector of schools  who is the lay reader then a parish priest, archdeacon, and diocesan inspector of school. These are supervised by the diocesan secretary Grade II and then the diocesan education secretary who oversees the department,” Bishop Mwesigwa explained.

He said because these are under direct supervision of the church they are easily monitored and supervised.

“A lay reader and a parish priest can easily and closely monitor schools because of their closeness to the faithful. These people can tell why there is absenteeism of the teachers and pupils, why the enrollment has gone down in different schools easily and then they will report to their next supervisor for action. Their spiritual duties and performance assessment is tagged among others, on how schools in their respective areas of jurisdiction are performing,” the prelate added.

The clergyman said if schools in one’s parish and archdeaconry are not performing well, they have to be accountable. He added that relying on government inspectors may never be as impactful because they are not only few but also not well facilitated.

Closer to the community

Bishop Mwesigwa added that church structures also help in mobilisation of parents to contribute to their children’s education.

“Parents in this diocese have been supportive in contributing some funds towards ensuring quality education of their children. This is because through sensitisation from our church structures they realised that government support was not adequate,” he said. “Because of this support we are able to facilitate our schools in buying some education materials and motivating teachers.”

He said when he had started mobilising parents to contribute some money towards facilitating quality education of their children, he met resistance from some leaders, but with support of the church structures the communities and parents understood the cause and became supportive.

Targets by the diocesan board

The diocesan education secretary Rev Can Agasha Muhwezi, said the diocese has an education board that always sets them targets and it is the responsibility of the structures to ensure they are achieved.

“We have the education board that sets targets for us and we have to ensure these are achieved. For example, this year’s targets are that there should not be any failures at all levels, quality of Grade Ones should be improved and that every parish should have a model district,” said Rev Muhwezi.

He added that in their targets primary schools at archdeaconries should aim at grade one and two, at parish level grade one, two and three but in principle all schools should aim at Grade One.

For O-Level, Rev Muhwezi said first world schools should not exceed Grade Two, second world schools should not exceed Grade Three and third world schools should not exceed Grade Four. Adding that all schools should aim for Grade One. On the other hand, A-Level special emphasis should be on science subjects and the target be that all students attain sponsorship for degrees and diploma courses on merit.

“As the head of education in the diocese I have to make sure these targets are achieved with my inspectorate team up. We have to work hard towards the goal,” he added.

Complementary to government

Rev Muhwezi said all they do is not necessarily to mean they are independent of government but they cooperate and complement each other.

“To improve the education sector we need collaboration between the different stakeholders, including the founding body, government and parents. During our inspections, for example we come across situations where there are very few teachers in schools. Here, we engage the government through the Ministry of Education to table our concerns and we have occasionally been helped,” Mr Muhwezi explained.

The diocese also has a secretariat that prepares promotional exams for Primary Six, Senior Four and Senior Six, pre-mock and PLE exams then Senior Six and senior school entry exams.

“There is a secretariat in my department that prepares exams in all our church-founded (CoU). This helps in the easy monitoring and following up of our learners,” Mr Muhwezi added.

Mr Muhwezi said the education secretary and inspector of schools also attend school management committee meetings and sensitisation meetings for parents.    


Mr Julius Begumanya, the head teacher Kigaragara Vocational Secondary School in Isingiro District, said he joined the school as a pioneer head teacher with enrollment of seven learners and now has an enrollment of 578 learners. This feat, he attributes to the church efforts in rallying communities.

“When I was posted here, I was wondering about where to start, but church leaders, priests, archdeacons assured me that we would get learners. They also asked my assurance not to disappoint them with poor grades. For the last five years, we have been in the first position in UCE exams in Isingiro District,” Mr Begumanya said with a twinkle in his eye.  

He added that because of the good performance even if there is any contribution, parents and communities effortlessly contribute.

Coordination between stakeholders matters

The Venerable Rev Patrick Atuhaire, the archdeacon Mbarara Greater Archdeaconry, said their role is to ensure good management of schools and cooperation between schools, learners and parents.

“We coordinate parents, teachers and other stakeholders to ensure everyone plays his or her role. We sensitise parents to make sure they meet their children’s basic needs. We make sure there is discipline and occasionally offer career guidance,” Rev Atuhaire shared.

He added the targets set by the diocese on ensuring quality education helps to perform their mandate effectively.

Navigating murky waters

Also, funding has been a challenge among schools across the country, but through the diocesan education board, the diocese instructed that every school should have income generating projects.

“Each school has to have at least three income generating projects and they should choose from dairy, piggery, poultry, banana, coffee and eucalyptus tree growing to help in raising income to bridge the funding gaps,” Rev Muhwezi said.

School benchmarking programmes has contributed to quality education.

“There is a benchmarking programme where schools share experiences and best practices. First world schools share with third world schools and vice versa. From this, struggling schools get better practices that can help them excel. In all diocese school, when it comes to sharing and working together for success of learners, no one is bigger than the other,” Mr Nathan Mugume, the head teacher Mbarara Junior School, in Mbarara City .

“This is the reason some schools they used to consider rural –disadvantaged are now very competitive with traditional urban first class schools.”