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School CP - April 2005
New Vision, Kampala, 12 April 2005
Former housegirl goes back to S1 at 21 years
By Elvina Nawaguna
The students in Senior One Blue at Bethany High School, Naalya are chatting with each other. Everyone is contributing to the conversation, except one light skinned girl.
As though to make up for the lost years, Margaret Katwesige reads her book, oblivious of the noise around her.
There is nothing unusual about her. In fact, she looks very much at ease in her class and is about the same height and size as most of her classmates. It is almost impossible to tell that she is 21 years old, among mostly 13-year olds.
After her P6 at St. Judes Primary School in Hoima in 1995, Katwesiges father declared to her and her siblings that he no longer had money to keep them in school. Katwesige became a house girl in Makindye, Kampala. As a maid, she worked hard to learn how to read English.
My boss used to give me newspapers for lighting the sigiri, which I would first read, Katwesige says giggling.
She would read out loudly and try to pronounce every word correctly.
Fortunately, Katwesige got another job as a house girl in the USA. During the five years she worked there, she built her English vocabulary and mastered pronunciation.
I would watch movies and learn how words were pronounced, Katwesige says.
When she told her boss that she wanted to study, she (the boss) was shocked.
She told me Where are you going to start from? People will think you are the teacher's wife! Katwesige says.
With her savings, Katwesige returned to Uganda and enrolled for Primary Leaving Exams at Parajwoki primary School in Hoima. She got 13 points and was admitted to Bethany High School.
So far, things are going well, except the caning, Katwesige says.
When the class is caned for making noise, she also gets caned. At first, she wanted to resist, but then she realised that she had to follow the rules and obey authority like her S1 classmates.
Katwesige says she is comfortable that the students treat her
as one of them even after finding out her age. She has even cut
off her hair exposing a large scar on her left temple, which she
got when their house caught fire. The fire damaged one of her
nerves, which remains sensitive to the sun. Because of this,
Katwesige cannot participate in sports. She, however, joined the
music and drama class.
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