Kihanga Secondary School’s timely embrace of advanced ICT literacy

Mr Muniini K. Mulera

What you need to know:

  • Dr Willy Kakuru, a member of the board of governors, is the national projects coordinator for wetlands and associated catchments restoration at the Ministry of Water and Environment.
  • He is particularly keen on the role that the Kihanga ICT Centre will play in sharing lessons, technologies and practices for sustainable land management and increased land production.

Dear Tingasiga:
It is one thing to make a promise, and quite another to fulfil it. Central to the operations of the Diaspora International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB) is delivery on its promises with transparency and accountability.

ICOB’s recent commitment to donate up to $30,000 (about Shs111.4 million) towards the establishment of a state-of-the-art Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Centre at Kihanga Secondary School in Rukiga District will be no exception.

ICOB’s work has already been made easy by an emerging strong partnership with the current leaders and a group of alumnae of Kihanga Secondary School. As an invited participant in this process, I have been impressed by the Kihanga Team’s passion for transformative education and intentional creation of positive legacies.

Mr Pedson Twesigomwe, the chairperson of the board of governors, is a chartered accountant who is an assistant commissioner for accounts at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. He has great clarity of vision and efficient follow up on commitments. An excellent leader of the team.

Mr Onesmus Rukundo, the headteacher, has solid knowledge of the state of the school and its needs.

He is working with Mr Narcis Rwangoga, ICOB’s ICT consultant in Uganda, to prepare a comprehensive design and specifications of the computer network, that will be used for the procurement phase of the process.

Mr Rukundo and the board of governors will adhere to the Uganda Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, 2003, as it applies to local governments. This is an essential requirement by ICOB before approving the successful vendor for the project.

Mr Robert Gensi, a member of the board of governors, is a food scientist, and climate change resilience programming specialist. He is the global agriculture advisor of SELFHELP Africa, an Irish international non-governmental organisation, involved in developing food systems in 16 countries in the world.

Dr Chris Rutebarika, a veterinarian, is a retired public servant who is currently working as a private consultant, specialising in animal health.

Dr Willy Kakuru, a member of the board of governors, is the national projects coordinator for wetlands and associated catchments restoration at the Ministry of Water and Environment.

He is particularly keen on the role that the Kihanga ICT Centre will play in sharing lessons, technologies and practices for sustainable land management and increased land production.

Mr Bruce Kyerere Kwarisiima, SC, is a lawyer in private practice in Kampala, who has previously served as president of the Uganda Law Society, treasurer of the East Africa Law Society, Secretary General/Treasurer of the Pan African Lawyers Union, and vice president of the Association of Professional Societies of  East Africa. He is the current chancellor of the Diocese of Kigezi and serves on many boards and other organisational leadership teams.

Mr Johnson Baryantuma is the head of laity in the Anglican Diocese of Kigezi, and university secretary, Kabale University.

The team has announced two fundraising events, one to be held in Kampala and the other at the school, with the aim of raising the balance of the cost of the new ICT Centre.

The first fundraising dinner in Kampala will be held at Kembabazi Restaurant in Naguru on Saturday, September 16, and the thanksgiving at the school will take place on Thursday, October 12.

Both events will be graced by the presence of Bishop Gaddie Akanjuna of Kigezi. It is hoped that alumnae and friends of Kihanga will generously support this initiative.

The first phase of the ICT centre aims at creating a 70-100 station network. This is a small fraction of the stations that will be required to support the school’s current populations of 960 students (454 males and 506 females) and 44 teachers.

The medium-to-long-term goal of the project is to create a centre that will serve the ICT learning needs of Kihanga Secondary School and of other schools in the area. This shared resource will ultimately need hundreds of networked terminals and a very efficient internet connectivity. It is an ambitious but achievable project whose potential dividends will transform the learners’ preparedness for life in the modern world.

Extensive renovations of a building to house the ICT centre are already underway. Ms Lilian Kamusiime and Ms Evelyne Ninsiima Kikafunda, two board members of ICOB (Apex) who are also the Organisation’s official representatives in Uganda, visited Kihanga on Friday, August 18.

They were very impressed by the progress and the school’s commitment to complete the project. Kamusiime and Ninsiima, both of whom have outstanding backgrounds in education and community development, have committed themselves to work closely with the Kihanga team to ensure a successful process.

The ICT centre alone will not be enough to turn Kihanga into a top tier secondary school. A comprehensive redevelopment and repositioning as an all-round academic and vocational centre of excellence will require significant, sustained financial, intellectual, and organisational involvement by the alumnae, the local community, and friends of Kihanga. 

This is not a new idea, of course. The best centres of learning all over the world are beneficiaries of voluntary contributions by their alumnae and communities. 

This community engagement, which should be the standard of practice all over Uganda, will be a healthy partnership with the Uganda government which has already demonstrated its commitment to ICT learning in the new secondary school curriculum.

The founders of the first school at Kihanga, which opened its doors in 1932 understood the transformative power of basic literacy. The learners wrote in the dust using their fingers or sticks. By the time the school was granted junior secondary status in 1957, the minimum expectations for students at that level included the ability to use “mathematical instruments” and to read textbooks in the English language.  

By March 1967, when Kihanga became a private senior secondary, the students were required to be well grounded in the sciences, complete with resources for practical scientific experimentation.

In 2023, competence in ICT literacy is the equivalent of basic writing, reading and arithmetic in 1932. Those who went to school 90 years ago escaped from the peasants’ tenuous struggles and became highly desirable employees in the colonial state and churches.

Those with a comprehensive command of ICT literacy today have the potential to stand shoulder to shoulder with other competitors in the overcrowded job and business entrepreneurial market.

The church missionaries and colonial officers provided the means for our forebears to become successful members of the colonial world. It is our turn to build centres of excellence all over Uganda that offer wholesome education that enables the next generations to thrive in the global digital world.

Muniini K. Mulera is Ugandan-Canadian social and political observer.     [email protected]
Letter to a 
Kampala Friend