I cannot let students be undisciplined because of fear of resentment. That is cheap popularity,” Emmanuel Mugabi, then a deputy head teacher at Kizza Memorial School in Masaka District, told an emergency assembly which was called to announce suspension of three students who had escaped from school.
The 33-year-old teacher, currently at Blessed Sacrament Kimanya Secondary School in Masaka, confirms that he makes it a point to punish students who stray. The Christian Religious Education and History teacher, says while he was still a student, he saw some teachers who would seek cheap popularity among students but is determined not to be of the kind. “It is better for learners to hate you now and later praise you after realising you were only shaping them in the right way,” he says. Ceaser Kaseeta, a fourth year medical student at Makerere University, is one of the Mugabi’s former students who attests to this. He recalls the day they were punished after pouring water on the head prefect’s bed. “Since then, I learnt that it is good to respect leaders,” he confesses.
Born in Kako, Mukungwe Sub-county, on December 26, 1985, to Reheboam Kakinda Sekaddu and Mary Sekaddu, Mugabi started school at Kako Primary School in 1991. In 1998, the last born in a family of eight joined Kako Secondary School for his O and A-Level.
In 2004, he joined Makerere University for a Bachelors of Arts with Education majoring in History and Christian Religious Education as his teaching subjects.
In 2008, upon his graduation, he started his career in Busoga Standard College, Buwegi in Kamuli District before joining Kizza Memorial Secondary School in Masaka, in 2011, where he served as deputy head teacher.
In 2015 he joined Blessed Sacramento Kimanya where he teaches to date.
But in his career, Mugabi has come to appreciate that handling students from different backgrounds is not a joke. “In fact some parents send students after failing to handle them with belief that the teachers will manage,” he says.
To manage this, he says teachers must be open. “You call a spade a spade. I learnt this from Leslie Frank, my Commerce teacher at Kako Secondary School in Masaka. He could not see you breaking school rules and you get away with it.” But for teachers to ably do this, he says, they must be exemplary. “A morally upright teacher finds it easy to address issues of indiscipline among learners,” Mugabi says.
The father of two says Christians regard their professions as callings and therefore, he says, it is important that teachers work towards getting fruits that in the end become a reflection of their good work.
“Jesus wants us to be in line with his teachings despite the challenges such as low pay,” Mugabi asserts.
For instance, he says, the payraise for Science teachers, according to Mugabi, will make students undermine Arts teachers saying government has to treat all teachers equally.
He also says the move by government to introduce video-conferencing lessons in classrooms so that rural learners schools can benefit from urban teachers creates a wrong impression that teachers in rural school are not good.
“All teachers are good because they go to same colleges; but those in rural areas face a lot of challenges which deter them from polishing their skills,” the jolly teacher explains.