About 160 students of Harambee High School in Kaharo Sub-county are stranded after the Kabale District security committee ordered the closure of the learning institution over land ownership wrangles.
In an interview with the Monitor last Thursday, the Kabale Resident District Commissioner, Mr Godfrey Nyakahuma, confirmed the closure of the school and advised the parents to take the children to other schools until the wrangles are resolved.
The wrangles pit the school administration against the neighbouring community.
Mr Nyakahuma revealed that the disagreement erupted last year when Mr Ronald Sirikale, the school administrator, claimed ownership of the school structures and the land on which it sits.
“After failed attempts to reconcile the school administrators and the community members, the district security committee recommended the closure of the school,” Mr Nyakahuma said.
He added: “Although I summoned Mr Sirikale twice for a meeting to resolve the wrangles, he declined [to attend]. We have decided to close the school for the security of the students and their properties.”
When contacted for a comment on the matter, Mr Sirikale, said: “We are going to have a press conference soon and I will reach out to you. I am waiting for the other members of our team (Harambee fellowship) to travel [to Uganda] and we will make it as a group,” Mr Sirikale said.
The Kabale District education officer, Mr Moses Bwengye, said his office also organised the reconciliation meetings.
The secretary for the Diocese of Kigezi, Rev Milton Nkurunungi, wondered why the administrators of Harambee High School were claiming ownership of the school property and yet it sits on titled diocese land.
“We are grateful that the RDC has intervened in this matter and we shall wait for his further guidance,” Rev Nkurunungi said.
Some of the parents and other stakeholders said the closure of the school has forced students to trek long distances for education.
They added that this could also affect the scholarships that some of the students had received.
“We appeal to the office of the Resident District Commissioner to continue engaging both parties for possible reconciliation,” the chairperson of the Harambee fellowship, Mr Moses Agaba, said.
Harambee High School is located about 14 kilometres away from Kabale Town on the Kabale-Mbarara Highway.
It was established by Hector Sutherland, a Scottish national, in 1997.
This followed the establishment of a Scotland-based voluntary organisation, Harambee Educational Fund (HEF), which aims at extending education services to the needy, especially orphans, in Africa.
Before he flew back to Scotland in 2020, he handed over the school to Kaharo Archdeaconry Church in the Diocese of Kigezi and Mr Sirikale to run it. Sutherland died a year later.