By David Martin Aliker
On Saturday August 10th, 2019 Sacred Heart Old Girls Association (SHOGA) organized a re-union for its Alumni Association.
Notably, on their list of invite were Bishop Angelo Negri College Old Students’ Executives, Layibi College Old Students Association (Layisco) Executives, Sacred Heart School Senior Citizens, Sacred Heart School Alumni Members of Parliament and Alumni Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde .
In the program, the incoming leader of the old girls Association lamented, just like the Minister the poor performance of the school as compared to their time at the school.
They then launched a fundraising drive to renovate their sick bay to ensure students get better medical services.
While, I am tempted to dwell on the historical rivalry between Layibi College and Bishop Angelo Negri College students over Sacred Heart Girls; this competition at our time included academic performance.
Recently, most Alumni Associations of historical schools are beginning to question what has gone wrong with their schools. This is inspiring them to come together as associations to support their schools retain their lost glory.
The obvious questions in their minds despite the lamentation were: Why are all former Catholic Schools a shadow of its self in its academic performance? Who is responsible? What should be done?
Two decades ago, most of this Catholic Schools were being managed by White Verona Catholic Nuns or Priests or Comboni Missionaries.
They excelled in educating the poor as much as the rich but now, even the poor shun them. Has Gulu Arch diocese failed in its previous commitment to educate the poor?
Is this poor performance a result of a change in the leadership structure of the Arch diocese from Missionaries to diocesan priests?
To answer all this questions, I will in my Blog posts share my thoughts and experiences on these key issues as a former employee of the church and as a Catholic who attended most of his education at the level of Nursery, Primary and Ordinary Level education under Catholic Church Schools.
The intention of this blog posts will be to tickle and inspire catholic stake holders to publicly, openly and responsibly SPEAK UP about the poor state of catholic schools in Gulu Arch Diocese.
To begin with, I would like to commend Gulu Arch diocese for doing a commendable job during the conflict and working hard to inspire peace to prevail in the aftermath of the two decade conflict.
I also commend Gulu Arch diocese for its sacrifice and continuity despite the challenges experienced during the days of conflict where some Catechist, Priest and Nuns lost their lives.
Now that there is a normalcy, the question of who is responsible for the poor performance of Catholic Church Schools in the Arch diocese? And why are our schools a shadow of its previous academic excellence lies precisely in my opinion with the leadership of Gulu Arch Diocese.
Gulu Arch diocese is directly responsible for quality of education in Catholic schools in the diocese. While government has taken over some schools; Gulu Arch Diocese is still responsible for ensuring an accountable and transparent leadership in catholic schools.
At the highest level of accountability in the Catholic schools; the system of accountability in the Catholic Church structure in the diocese has broken down.
The Arch Diocese is responsible for identifying, reviewing and recruiting members of the Board of Directors in all this schools.
The Catholic Church in its wisdom rewards loyalty hence most families that have served over time from their great grandparents easily stand a chance to serve in these boards irrespective of their competence and record of performance. They are only accountable to their Patrons and not performance.
This are the same personalities despite the numerous young talented and competent members within the diocese, they recommend to 2 to 3 other catholic schools hence sharing their inadequate competence in 2 to 3 other catholic schools hence uniform challenges of mismanagement in all this schools.
A case in point, a senior Head teacher is recommended to lead the Board in one school and his contemporary in the same school is recommended to head the Board in his school. Over the years, there has been no noticeable improvement nor have any yardsticks of measuring progress been put in place but their positions remain guaranteed.
How do they account to each other? How do they offer checks and balance to financial management and human resource management procedures in the school. Technically, they are all scratching each other’s backs.
In essence, it’s the same Board that recruits teachers which more often than not is related in one way or another to their former colleagues in the diocese in these challenging times of employment. Hence, the loyalty and accountability of these teachers are to the conservative catholic culture of “promoting and protecting our own.”
It’s the same teachers that recruit students of known catholic families irrespective of their performance in the school. These students are not as much accountable to the less influential prefects and teachers, but to the influential teachers whose influence is from family loyalty to the diocesan system of patronage.
In conclusion, the system of accountability and responsibility within Gulu archdiocese is failing the education sector in the diocese. No amount of effort from Alumni Associations can improve the performance in Catholic schools for as long as the diocese cannot ensure an accountable and transparent system of leadership in Gulu Arch Diocese education department.
Once leadership is addressed within the education sector in the diocese and accountability is enforced by both the diocese and other school stake holders like Alumni Associations, Parents and Teachers Associations, education performance in catholic schools in the diocese will improve.
The author is a Blogger based in Gulu and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org