Many of the first learned Muslims got their formal education through the present-day Kibuli Demonstration School the pioneer Muslim-founded primary school in Uganda.
But the 94-year-old school has seen its standards decline over the years, with the student enrolment dropping to 954. The school facilities are also in a dire state and not considered conducive for learning.
“The school is seriously wanting, not because the administration is poor but because we don’t have the resources,” says the school’s head teacher, Badru Ssembajjwe Ssenoga.
Kibuli Demonstration School is one of the education institutions under the management of Young Men’s Muslim Association (YMMA), an organisation founded by the late Prince Badru Kakungulu in 1940, to promote Muslim education.
On November 17, the organisation launched a three-year drive to revamp the school. The multimillion-shilling project will see the organisation rehabilitate the school’s dilapidated infrastructure.
“We want to start small; we don’t want to be overambitious but handle what we can afford,” said Uthman Mayanja, the YMMA president.
The drive, according to Mayanja, follows growing concern for the falling numbers of Muslim students enrolling in the organisation’s secondary schools such as Nabisunsa Girls’ School, where it is estimated that for every three students that get admitted, two are not Muslims.
“This is so because Muslim candidates [at P7] don’t get the [grades] for admission to schools like Nabisunsa and Kibuli SS. This is because we don’t have good Muslim primary schools, and it is for that very reason that we want to revamp Kibuli Demonstration School,” Mayanja said.
Mayanja said YMMA is shifting away from seeking foreign donors and looking at local capacity.
“We should think of a system that preserves what we have in a more sustainable way, and also plan on how we can move ahead without looking so much at foreign donors,” he said.
Most of the planned artistic impressions are ready but there are no quotations, which Mayanja explained is intended to encourage individual old students and members of YMMA to take up the works themselves.
“We are looking at individuals coming up to fund the rehabilitation of say, a classroom or an entire block. It should be done by us, not anyone else,” Mayanja said.
Prince Khalifan Lukanga Kakungulu, speaking on behalf of his brother, Prince Kassim Nakibinge (both sons of Prince Badru Kakungulu), is calling for a re-think in priorities of developing Islam in Uganda. He has urged Muslims to stop criticisms against one another and work for development.