Thirty years earlier while a student at Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School, Vanessa Nabeta Kibirige instead had dreams of being a doctor.
“This is because I felt I should grow to help people who are in pain,” she says. However, her frequent visits to hospitals made her realise she could not bear looking at blood.
And so when her time to join university came, she enrolled for a Bachelor’s of Education at Makerere University setting her career as a teacher in motion. But she did not wait to complete her degree before she started teaching. In fact after her school practice at Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School in 1996, she was retained as a teacher of History and Literature in English, a position she held for 10 years.
But Nabeta’s school life was spent in various schools across the globe. Her parents (Elizabeth and Steven Nabeta) used to travel a lot meaning that with each new posting she would move to a new school.
Born on January 24, 1974, her education journey started at Nakasero Primary School from 1980 to 1986 for her primary education, however, while she was in Primary Six, her family relocated to Kigali, Rwanda but completed her Primary Seven at Katatumba Academy, Mbarara in 1986.
Nabeta and her family made a brief return to Kampala and she was admitted at Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School for Senior One in 1987. This was only for a year until her family relocated to Belgium after her father was appointed Uganda’s ambassador to Belgium where she completed her secondary education at British School of Brussels in 1990. She returned to Uganda that year and completed her A-Level at Gayaza High School in 1992.
Sometimes Nabeta credits her career on her friend Julia Majugo’s revelation. She recalls that while at Gayaza High, School Majugo told her that she would become a teacher and this came to pass. “We were talking about the kind of courses we would like to pursue at university and Julia told me I would be teacher,” she recounts.
Moving and studying in different countries trained Nabeta to be dynamic and it is that that led her to Banunule Primary School in Kisugu as the head teacher after 10 years of being a secondary school teacher. She served in that position for nine years until she left the school in 2016. The position had thus set a good foundation on which Nabeta set to start Marigolds Christian School in 2017.
“The last 21 years I have spent teaching, I have gained experience in both primary and secondary school teaching,” says Nabeta. This, she thinks, is an achievement since most teachers only end up with experience in only one of the two.
Besides that, managing Banunule Primary School helped her develop management skills adding that teaching has also helped her change lives of different children.
“I find pleasure in being a part of someone’s personal growth most especially children. I saw lives of children who were underpriviledged transform after being admitted at Banunule Primary School,” she says. “The fact that I managed to set up my own school is in itself an achievement,” she adds.
Nabeta has not been exempted from some of the challenges teachers in a country like Uganda face.
“Teachers in our country are under looked. Most people think it is being a teacher is not worth it,” she says. Additionally, she says, the profession has tough demands most especially from the stakeholders. “People expect you to be 100 per cent perfect which, in most cases, is not possible,” she says.
The rigidity of the Ugandan education system has also comes off as a hindrance to Nabeta’s delivery.
“I remember when I was still a teacher at Nabisunsa, I proposed some changes in the way history questions were supposed to be set. This, was however, impossible, since management could not allow any changes,” she says.
Despite the challenges, at 44, Nabeta says the future is bright and she will keep nurturing the country’s children which she feels has now become her calling.
The family woman
Vanessa Nabeta Kibirige is married to Allan Kibirige with five children. Two girls and three boys. Her teaching career, Nabeta says, has mainly affected her family positively, for instance, she has been directly involved in the teaching of her children. “I have been able to teach my children things like how to read, express themselves and life skills like them being able to socialize with people,” she says.