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OpEd

JONATHAN MUGISHA: My experience as a parent at Greenhill Academy

Greenhill Academy Principal, Mrs J.V Maraka (FILE PHOTO)

By  Jonathan Mugisha

I read with interest Mrs. Tindyebwa Fridah’s article regarding the alleged pain of a parent of Greenhill Academy. I will start by introducing myself. I am Jonathan Mugisha, I am a surveyor. I live in Muyenga and my first born went to Greenhill Kibuli campus. He is now a first-year law student at Makerere University. His siblings have also attended Greenhill, Kibuli. I have been a parent of Greenhill for many years and currently, I have one child there.

The story Mrs. Tindyebwa circulated was full of inaccuracies and I will address some of them as a concerned parent of the school. The allegation that children are expected in class at 6.00am is inaccurate. It is we the parents who have decided to do that to enable us to be at work before 8.00am given the traffic jam.

I normally drop my children at the school between 7.00am and 7.30am and I have never been stopped. On my way out of the school, sometimes I see parents dropping kids especially those in nursery as late as 8.30am. I think Mrs Tindyebwa can try to drop her kids at 7.30am and see if they will not be allowed in school. That way she can write an informed article.

She also raised an issue about homework. As a parent of Greenhill who is involved in my children’s education, I know that pupils in P1-P4 are given homework between Monday and Thursday. Each day they are given 10 numbers of one subject. If on Monday they are given 10 numbers of Math, on Tuesday, they will be given 10 numbers of English. This homework is printed on paper and given to them at 3.30pm and if they don’t finish it by 4.00pm, they complete it at home. Sometimes my children finish this work at school so, at home, they are just doing household assignments such as cleaning which have nothing to do with the school.

The children who are in P5-P7 are given 12-15 numbers each day between Monday and Thursday. Every Friday, all pupils are given four subjects with 10 numbers each. P5-P7 pupils leave school at 5.00pm. During exam times, I have also noticed the children are given more time within the school schedule to revise.

The issue of work, work, and work and no play as raised by Mrs Tindyebwa is also not entirely true. All children play during the break and lunch hours. In fact, P5-P7 pupils are given another break between 3.20pm-3.40pm. At Buwaate, there are several playgrounds. In Kibuli, it is the same. There is even a swimming pool there. Talking of swimming pool, if I recall properly, Greenhill has been winning national swimming competitions. There are various games and clubs at Greenhill such as football, robotics, chess, volleyball. So it is not just work, work, and work.

As a parent, I get to know teachers well because that helps me to understand them so I can help my children. I haven’t left my children’s education to only Greenhill. This has enabled me to understand teachers beyond school. I just don’t drop kids and go. Through my interactions with teachers over the years, I have come to understand that Greenhill teachers are paid by the 26th of the month. They are also paid during holidays.

Although I know how much they are paid, I will not reveal that because of privacy issues but they are paid very well compared to some other schools in Greenhill’s category. All teachers get medical insurance and all members of staff are beneficiaries. My wife and I look after some children who live with their grandmother in another part of the city. They too go to a school as good as Greenhill so I know the disparities between salaries but I will limit myself to Greenhill.

Mrs Tindyebwa was right about Greenhill increasing its fees by Shs200,000. I would be very happy if they didn’t increase fees but if my memory serves me right, this is the first time they are increasing fees in three years. Other costs have been going up but Greenhill has not been increasing fees. I can somehow understand their decision to increase fees after three years. I know that a parent who may not have 100% of the fees at the beginning of the term, can commit themselves in writing to the school and provide a schedule. I don’t think Mrs. Tindyebwa has ever approached the school and explained that she didn’t have all the money at beginning of term and her children were not allowed in.

As a parent, I know Greenhill Rector JV Maraka very well. She is one of the most committed people I know and she means well for the children but she is also strict and that is why Greenhill has been a top school for many years. I think she can only make the school better if we help her to do her job. Let us engage her and her team not just when we don’t have all the money to pay upfront but on all issues that affect the education of our team. As parents, we are responsible to engage her.

Lastly, I will talk about grades. It is unfortunate that Greenhill did not score to our expectations. We are used to Greenhill being on top of the charts and candidates getting placements in schools of their first or second choices. Once this does not happen, we as parents become nervous. Knowing the school administration, I believe they are doing everything they can with integrity to restore the school’s performance. My call to all parents is; whatever we do and say about the school will affect the performance of our children. Let us come together and support the school administration to ensure 2019 is a year full of successes.

 

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