Thirty years ago, most Kabale parents rushed to enroll their children in Kigezi High School, spurred largely by a guarantee of good grades in national examinations.
The rivalry between Kigezi High and Kigezi College Butobere also extended markedly to football games between them, which usually ended in bloody brawls. Both schools, however, lost their winning streak at the start of the year 2000 and beyond, registering a high failure rate at some point.
But improvements at Kigezi High over the last three years have paid off.
A new head teacher and improved pay for teachers refocused the school and turned around its academic fortunes. The school registered one of the largest improvements in the country in the just-released O-level results. In the 2012 edition of the national exams, the school got 39 first grades; that number jumped to 103 for last year’s exams, whose results were released on Tuesday.
Tracked over the last three years, some schools have continued to climb steadily. These include Kajjansi Progressive SS, which got 109 first grades for 2013, compared to 52 for 2012. Blessed Sacrament Kimaanya (68 first grades) remained steadily on the way up, as did St Mary’s College Lugazi (63), Bishop Ciprian High School, Kyabakadde (57), Kyebambe Girls’ School (48), Lubiri High School (47), St Mary’s Vocational SS, Kyamuhunga (44) and St Mark’s College Namagoma (44).
In particular, a fundraising ceremony by Kyebambe Girls’ School’s old students in 2011, was graced by the president, and may have sparked the school’s revival. Our table also shows that the latest results may spell doom for some head teachers, whose schools are on a steady decline.
These include the once-great Kabalega Secondary School (9 first grades, compared to 45 two years ago); Valley College SS, Bushenyi (9 first grades, compared to 31 two years ago); Namilyango Secondary School (just 2 first grades, compared to 27, two years ago); Lango College in Lira (9 first grades, against 22, two years ago) and Mariam High in Kisaasi (8 first grades, against 21 two years ago).
For the top 30 schools in the country, consistency is now a virtue they are striving to maintain. Top of this pack is St Mary’s SS Kitende, followed, in no particular order, by Seeta High School, Mengo SS, Ntare School, King’s College Budo, Gombe SS, Uganda Martyrs SS Namugongo, St Mary’s College Kisubi, Gayaza High School and Mt St Mary’s College Namagunga.
While Kitende remains at the top of the pack, the rest of the schools have interchanged places, largely owing to the sizes of their enrolment. Some like Gayaza High School and Mt St Mary’s College Namagunga have maintained the philosophy of keeping small classes that they can concentrate on. They plan to displace the likes of Kitende when the first division is ranked against the size of the class.
However, others like Ntare School, Uganda Martyrs SS Namugongo, and St Mary’s College Kisubi have sought to dig into Kitende’s dominance by expanding facilities in order to have as many students as possible passing in first division.
Immaculate Heart Girls’ School in Rukungiri have established themselves as the best in the area, improving consistently over the last three years.