Williams Ssuuna, the former Old Kampala Secondary School headteacher has approached the Education and Social Services Committee of parliament to investigate what he claims is the gross mishandling of transfer cases by Ministry of Education staff.
Ssuuna, recently transferred to Buluguli Seed Secondary School, endured a two-year tenure marked by conflicts with the school board of directors, PTA, and staff. Accusations of maladministration and corruption led to investigations by KCCA, the Ministry of Education, and the Inspectorate of Government-IG.
In November 2023, the IG released a comprehensive 100-page report exposing systemic issues at the once-prestigious city school. The report highlighted instances of malpractice, maladministration, abuse of office, and mismanagement of funds under Ssuuna's leadership. The IG recommended the termination of his contract or transfer to another school, along with the recovery of Shs 107 million that disappeared under his watch.
However, Ssuuna perceives the IG's recommendation as "unfair." The troubled headteacher asserts that the parliamentary committee should consider that his transfer was based on incorrect information from the IG and unproven allegations by stakeholders, potentially including staff, the board, and some PTA members.
“The issues listed above, among others like extortion by some officers in the Ministry of Education and Sports are making the work environment very difficult for me following the recent transfer...without giving me a fair hearing,” Ssuuna’s letter to the committee chairperson reads in part. Ssuuna assumed his post at Old Kampala on June 1, 2022, but encountered immediate resistance from the staff and members of the board of directors who were wary of his tarnished track record.
He had come with a history of maladministration and misappropriation of funds at previous schools, including Luweero SSS. Upon arrival at Old Kampala SS, internal conflicts escalated. Ssuuna who wanted to stamp his authority started advocating for the transfer of several staff members and recruiting others on local contracts without the board's approval, a move flagged as irregular in the IG report.
Within a year, the Ministry attempted to transfer Ssuuna to Iganga Seed Secondary School. However, the IG had already initiated an investigation into the matter. The IG's report also highlighted the headteacher's irregular expenditure of public resources without an approved budget.
Investigators found that, until August, the school operated without a budget for the 2023 academic year. Additionally, the report disclosed that the headteacher made improper payments totaling Shs 73.22 million. In the report, it was also indicated that the headteacher deducted withholding taxes amounting to over Shs 6.3 million from contractors but failed to remit these funds to the Uganda Revenue Authority, as mandated by law. This is just one among several issues outlined in the report.
But, Ssuuna alleges that officials at the Ministry of Education solicited money from him as a facilitation to resolve the issue, involving individuals like Abubaker Bbuye from the secondary education department and Michael Wafana of Makerere College, who is also the brother of Sam Kuloba, the former Commissioner of Secondary Education.
As Ssuuna appeals to the parliamentary committee, the Ministry of Education has taken an unusual step by issuing transfers to 25 teachers at the school, out of the 70 on the government payroll. This move has raised concerns among staff members, with one individual, speaking anonymously, expressing that these transfers are adding to the school's troubles.
"The ministry has the right to transfer, but these transfers seem to have a hidden agenda. They are unhealthy and will have adverse consequences for the school. It's all connected to Mr. Ssuuna conflicts with staff members whom he perceives as not being on his side," said the staff member.
The Ministry has not provided an official comment on the matter, and efforts to contact human resource officers and the spokesperson have yielded no response. However, discussions among former students of Old Kampala indicate that the transfers could be part of a larger strategy aimed at eliminating individuals linked to the school's challenges.
This move, as suggested by alumni, maybe a step towards implementing a comprehensive overhaul to address the ongoing issues at the institution. On the other hand, James Mubiru, a former student of the school and now a school board member, comes to Ssuuna's defense, asserting that Ssuuna is a victim of a witch hunt orchestrated by a group with vested interests in selling off some of the school's property—a stance vehemently opposed by the headteacher.
"The challenges run deep. There's a faction with ulterior motives, and when the headteacher resisted complying with their agenda, they launched a campaign against him. False reports were submitted to the IGG. Mr. Ssuuna attempted to present his side, but it wasn't given a fair hearing," said Mubiru.
Mubiru further claims that, beyond the IGG report, the same unnamed group framed the headteacher's involvement in examination malpractice. However, contradicting Mubiru's claim, police reported that Ssuuna was found in possession of what appeared to be a Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) history examination paper a day before its scheduled sitting.