By Hahudu Kitunzi
Locals in Bugisu and neighbouring districts have expressed anger over the decision by Mbale Secondary School in Mbale City to charge former Senior Four students Shs25,000 each for engaging in a violent strike that led to the destruction of school property last year.
About 640 students, who sat for the 2022 Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams at the school have been tasked to pay the money in the Bursar’s office before collecting their results.
According to the school authorities, the students reportedly participated in the destruction of school property and the fee is intended to facilitate the repair of damaged property.
During the strike, police used teargas and bullets to disperse the angry students to avert further loss of property and also to save lives as the students pelted stones, including attacking other neighboring schools and blocking roads.
According to the general notice at the school addressed to the 2022 UCE candidates and signed by Mr. Moses Buyera, the school head teacher, the students are to pay the money and return the receipt to the Director of Studies.
According to police sources, the students went on strike after the school authorities conducted an operation to confiscate students’ mobile phones and clothes that were not part of school uniform.
Some of the former students, who talked to Daily Monitor on Wednesday afternoon on condition of anonymity, however, said the school authorities failed to respond to their concerns and preferred to punish individual students who came out to express their grievances on students’ welfare.
The school head teacher, Mr. Moses Buyera when contacted on Wednesday, however, blamed the former students for indiscipline.
“They started stoning teachers and police officers and, in the process, they destroyed a lot of property including desks, glasses in classrooms, switches, bulbs among many others,” Mr. Buyera said.
A parent, who requested not to be named, said the school isn’t even issuing any receipt acknowledging that one has paid Shs25,000.
Mr. Mathew Mukooli, another parent, said the school should have identified ring leaders and punished them instead of punishing every student including innocent ones.
Mr. Steven Masiga, a Lecturer at Makerere University, Mbale branch, said the penalty will serve as an example to deter other students from engaging in strikes.
Mbale Secondary School is one of the traditional schools, which was founded in 1954 by the colonial government for the Asian community.