Sserukenya- Success is assured when everyone is on board

Sserukenya (C) with some of his learners at Gayaza Church of Uganda Primary School. HOTOS/OWEN WAGABAZA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Kakonde Nathan, the chairperson school management committee says Sserukenya has been a blessing to the school.
  • With this modus operandi, Sserukenya has been able to register quite several achievements in the five years he has led Gayaza CoU PS. Fred Balidawa, a long-serving teacher at the school says Sserukenya has given the school a facelift.

Mr Fred Sserukenya is the headteacher of Gayaza Church of Uganda Primary School in Wakiso district. The school runs under the Universal Primary Education system. He has taught for the last 34 years and believes that teaching is a calling from God and has never regretted joining the profession. 

Sserukenya was born on 10th April 1970 in Busoke village, Kalagala sub-county in Luwero district to Ms Grace and Zakayo Mawanda. When he made five years, he was taken to Mpigi Nursery School and later Mpigi Primary School for his primary education. He later joined Mpigi secondary school for his O-levels. “Though I so much wanted to do A-levels, my parents could not afford, I therefore joined Shimoni Teachers Training College in 1988 from where I qualified as a Grade III teacher in 1990,” says Sserukenya. 

Humble beginnings

Sserukenya started teaching at St Joseph’s Primary School Nabingo before joining New ABC PS in Busega Nateete. At ABC, Sserukenya witnessed something he had not seen before, parents who truly loved their children and school as well. 

“The pupils were also very disciplined. I can say I enjoyed teaching in this school,” he says. 

Shortly, however, a family friend, Dr. Francis Kayanja set up a school; Kamuli Primary School in Kireka, and invited Sserukenya to join him as a teacher. “Whenever Kayanja went, there was music and it wasn’t different at Kamuli Primary School. We did a lot of music, dance, and drama and excelled that on several occasions, Stephen Rwanjenzi tried to convince us to join him,” Sserukenya remembers. 

He would later join Kibiri Primary School where his exploits in MDD continued. 

In 2001, due to his music exploits at Kamuli Primary School and Kibiri Primary School, Sserukenya was lured to St Kizito P.7 School Lira by the then head teacher Sr Margaret Tumusiime.

“Sr Tumusiime wanted her school to excel in MDD and she was advised to come for us. We were a group of about five teachers from Kampala and at first, we were met with resistance from both teachers and parents in Lira. They did not expect people from Kampala to go there and teach their children effectively,” Sserukenya says.

The group nevertheless worked tirelessly and within no time, the school was excelling in MDD and winning at the district, regional, and national levels.

The school also started performing well academically. “Sr Tumusiime invested heavily in turning around the school’s academic fortunes, she would hire facilitators to come to Lira and she would facilitate them well.”

After eight years in Lira, Sserukenya came back to Kampala and joined Kampala Parents School where he served till 2016 before joining St Bruno Kikajjo PS Kasenge.

Promoted to headteacher

In 2017, Sserukenya was promoted to headteacher and posted to Nakikungube primary school in Wakiso district. He had never heard of the school before the posting. When he finally reached the school, he was taken aback by the very poor state of the school.

“I regretted accepting the posting. The school was in a sorry state and the previous headteacher had been chased away by the parents and they had locked the office,” he says. 

He found an enrollment of 34 pupils of whom seven were P.7 candidates. But as they say that seeds must be buried before they can sprout, he opted to embrace the challenge with both hands. 

Sserukenya laid down strategies among which included mobilizing parents to trust them with their children. “We were moving house to house assuring parents that the school had new management ready to work with them for the betterment of the school.” By the end of the year, Sserukenya had registered 100 pupils and by the time he left, the school had 180 pupils. 

Gayaza CoU Primary School

In 2019, I was posted to Gayaza Church of Uganda Primary School and I found the school in a sorry state. The infrastructure was dilapidated with some classrooms acting as kraals and the floor in most classrooms was rumpty. The school had no fence and gate and people would just move about. 

The school had also been performing poorly academically, that it hadn’t registered a single first grade in the last fifteen years. 

To turn around the school, Sserukenya came up with several ideas which included sensitizing the parents on the need to turn around the school.

“I emphasized the need for collective responsibility, with me leading but with all of us responsible for whatever takes place in the school. I have encouraged the need for collective participation and accounting consensus in that we meet and agree, and then implement what has been agreed upon,” he says. 

With this modus operandi, Sserukenya has been able to register quite several achievements in the five years he has led Gayaza CoU PS. Fred Balidawa, a long-serving teacher at the school says Sserukenya has given the school a facelift.

“He has renovated all the classrooms and even repainted the roofs. He has also beautified the compound by planting flowers and ensured a dust-free environment at the school by planting paspalum grass and paving the compound,” says Balidawa. 

On the academic front, a lot has changed for the better. “He has ensured that teachers are well motivated, and as such self-driven. He has introduced remedial lessons for upper classes, and printed homework for all learners which they go with daily at home. Pupils are also regularly assessed,” says Balidawa. 

As a result of these interventions, the school has been registering first grades since 2020. “We were not able to get any first grade in 2019, but registered 22 first grades in 2020. In the 2023 PLE UNEB exams, we registered 18 first grades,” says Balidawa. 

“He has also brought on board old students. Previously, they did not want to associate with the school because of the poor state it was in, but they are now back and working closely with the administration to develop the school,” Balidawa adds.

Ms. Regis Wokulira Namusoke, the deputy headteacher says Sserukenya is hardworking, frugal, and a visionary headteacher who is always endeavoring to make the school better. 

“He monitors and reaches every corner, he is also ever-present. He has improved on the feeding of the pupils and staff as well. He has set up a two-acre banana plantation from which the school harvests matooke to feed the school. He is such a frugal and innovative leader using very little resources to turn around the school,” says Namusoke. 

Mr Kakonde Nathan, the chairperson school management committee says Sserukenya has been a blessing to the school.

“He has greatly turned around the school. He has connected the school to electricity, bought a printer and photocopier to enable regular assessment of the pupils, he has built a fence around the school, given it a facelift, and is doing well academically. Our pupils are also very smart. We are proud of him,” says Kakonge. 

According to Sserukenya, he has been able to achieve such milestones by encouraging teamwork and working closely with all the stakeholders.

“We have a very close working relationship with all the stakeholders, notably the parents, foundation body, and the school management committee. Having trust from all the stakeholders is key to the growth and development of a school. You can’t fail to succeed or register impact when everyone is on board and moving in the same direction,” Sserukenya explains.