EDUCATION

Silent nightmare in schools

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stablished in 1996, Namugongo Campus had the ambition of educating and accommodating the growing number of students in Uganda.

Theodorah Mary Akoth

I hope some radical parent out there learns something. Sometimes the environment is so hard to adjust and all one needs is a change, not endurance!

Naalya SSS Namugongo is a great school that has shaped several important citizens in the country and around East Africa. This is just my personal experience. Just as two people can go to the same place and walk out with different views or experiences about the same place.

I joined Naalya SSS Namugongo in 2009 for my A-level with a subject combination of PCB/A (physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Agriculture)

I arrived in the afternoon and just after I finished clearing, my parent was told to leave. The bell rang and I saw students running. I guessed that must have been the final bell for afternoon classes. I assumed since I was a new student the bell wouldn’t affect me. I was holding my bucket and blanket still wondering where my dormitory could be.

I was struck with a very terrible lash on the back, followed by a very angry voice, “why are you loitering, don’t you know it’s class time?”, He said. I had no idea who he was but guessed he was a teacher.

Amidst my tears and confusion, I said I have just arrived, I don’t know where my class is or even the dormitory to put my belongings.
He told me to take back my belongings to the clearance point and pointed out for me a class for A-level students. I was walking back, he yelled.” You can’t run or you need another beating.” I ran in tears, put my belongings down, and ran back in the direction he pointed.

I entered the first class I saw and it happened to be the wrong one but I needed shelter at least until I figure things out. That was my first day and it was the least of my worries.

Luckily enough, I met one of my childhood friends Mary Gimbo, who helped around. She briefed me on how things are run and gave me a quick tour. She told me, “here they beat you and you explain later. You can be beaten by anyone, even the perfect, cook, matron, etc. When you are here you have to be very fast in everything you do.”

As A-level students, we studied most of the day. Classes could begin between 5 to 6 am depending on the teacher. In the evenings as other students break off, A-level classes continue till 6 pm which was supper time. Sometimes, another class would start at 7:30 pm during evening preps. So, it’s upon you to make time to read.

I felt I was mentally overwhelmed, things were too fast for me. I wasn’t sleeping enough and you can’t seem to find when to sleep. My anxiety levels shot up. All I had in my head was don’t have yourself beaten up.

I missed meals for almost two weeks. And this probably would continue, had it not been for the little girl who would help me and give me some food. It took me three weeks to fully settle in.

I wouldn’t call myself a dull student, but I just couldn’t concentrate, my grades never got up and yet I loved every subject in my combination.

I even tried to get help from other students, instead, they started pitting me for not making the grades. Some offered free help to explain to me the simple things that I was finding so hard to grasp.

The last time, which perhaps was my defining moment was one morning during assembly time. That day one of the school administrators was addressing the students. I had such a stubborn friend, she was always giggling or whispering. As she was at it again, I told her, “please stop! You will get us both in trouble.” Just as I finished my statement, he saw me speak and walked to me. He gave me a slap that left me dizzy and momentarily confused. It made such a sound that left the whole assembly ground silent. He then dragged me by the collar and made me kneel in front of the entire school.

My already fragile confidence, went flying, I had never felt so humiliated as I did. I have never been a troublemaker in my entire life. I am not one of those chicky students.
That slap left my face swollen for the rest of the day and the marks remained for a week. And by the way, it left a lasting impact and I occasionally have trouble using that eye.
That was the first and last term I ever set foot in the school again!

To me, a school is a place where we are shaped for the future, not a dungeon for torture or a place you dread. Parents or parents to be, students are difficult humans to deal with but it’s good to listen to them and also sometimes poor performance is not that your child is dull. There could be underlying causes at school.

To the teachers out there, you do great, and I know you go through a lot when doing your job. But beating the hell out of children or threatening them will not earn you the respect you deserve. Be a teacher every student would be delighted to meet many years after school, not one who re-ignites bad memories.

When last did you listen to your child objectively concerning experiences at school? How much background check do you do about a school before sending your child there? Some of the low self-esteem issues people face have their roots. Sometimes, the way they are treated at school is one of them. Let’s all pay more attention.

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