56 Lubiri SS Candidates Arrested During Protest

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Some of the arrested students at Lungujja police stationA total of 56 candidates of Lubiri Secondary School have been arrested amidst protests against corporal punishment and poor learning conditions, among other issues. The arrested include three senior four candidates and 53 senior six candidates.

Jonathan Badugala, one of the arrested students says ever since they returned to school, they have been mistreated but adds that the protests were triggered by a case of corporal punishment by a teacher.  

Badugala narrates the teacher identified as Benjamin Mulondo asked students to present a song about HIV/AIDS. But some students had not prepared for the session which angered the teacher, who responded with insults, followed by the severe beating that led to the collapse of one of the learners identified as Christine Niwosinga.

He said that even after the student collapsed, the teacher continued beating her, saying that she was acting.  “Students couldn’t stand this anymore, they started shouting and banging desks and that’s how the protest started,” Badugala explained to URN while at Lungujja police station.  

According to accounts from several neighbours to the school, the students started protesting at around 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Fred Mugaga, a neighbour to the school says that they heard students shouting and rushed to the school, in panic but were denied entry. He adds that after some time, police officers from Lungujja Police Station, a stone throw away, from the school entered the school campus to arrest the situation and all people who had converged at the gate were told to go to their respective homes.  

Owen Masaaba, another student, says that before the incident, students have been complaining about the same teacher for using vulgar language during his lessons.

Luke Owoyesigyire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson says that the police arrested students on charges of Malicious Damage, for destroying school property during the protests. Owoyesigyire adds that upon interviewing the students, police officers were able to establish that the alleged cause of the uprising was a teachers insult to one of the learners.

“Police has picked interest in the matter and a case of assault is being investigated. The assaulted students are yet to be examined by a police surgeon but the teacher is currently on run,” says Owoyesigyire. He, however, noted that as police investigate the allegation of assault, the students will be charged for the crimes they committed in the process.

Meanwhile, the arrested students note that besides the Sunday incident, students at Lubiri SS have had concerns over other issues including their feeding and accommodation. One of the students who preferred anonymity says that when they returned to school, the day section was closed and all learners were told to go join boarding, yet the school doesn’t have enough facilities to accommodate them.  

Pauline Nakimuli, an aggrieved parent found at the gate of the school, says that even before the lockdown, the school didn’t have enough space to accommodate boarding students. She adds that the school had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with private hostel owners who could accommodate students at 500,000 Shillings per year. However, upon their return, all students were told to utilise the school facilities where they are charged 550,000 Shillings.

Hajjat Shamim Mugerwa, who was found pleading to the gatekeepers to allow her in also attested that although she didn’t know about the actual cause of the strike, she had received reports from her child about poor feeding and poor sleeping conditions at the school. 

Operating an illegal boarding section and turning classrooms into dormitories to accommodate learners is contrary to government policy and the ministry has warned to close any school found flouting this guideline.   

Fred Kabuye, the Chairperson of the Parent-Teacher Association-PTA, says that besides the police investigations, they have also started conducting investigations looking at the allegation from the students. Kabuye, however, notes that the final decision on whatever will be discovered is within the authority of the Board of Governors. 

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