When in Rome...

8th April 2005 at 01:00
Godfrey Kiganga believes in approaching links with flexibility and an open mind

I'm now back at Lords Meade after a very busy month in the UK: I attended the Secondary Heads Association (SHA) annual conference in Brighton, visited schools and made new friends. The links between my school and our link schools, Wolverhampton grammar and Rendcomb college in Cirencester, have been strengthened.

In my mind I see Kevin Riley, headteacher of the John Lyon school in Harrow, the pivot of our links, addressing teachers and students at his school. "Please give my Ugandan brother, Godfrey Kiganga, a warm welcome during his time in the school. Ask as many questions as possible about his school and about Uganda in general. Learn about how others live and learn."

The phrase "my Ugandan brother" is one I am asked about a lot. Do the rest of the stakeholders to these links understand and wish to join the bandwagon of progressive links between schools in the UK and Uganda? What is the future? We begin to know each other, our strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Gap year students visit Lords Meade and my staff will visit our partner schools and actively participate. On Red Nose Day in the UK, my hair was dyed red to raise money for Comic Relief. My students would not believe it; headteachers in Uganda are serious people. Links are about learning, about participating and being at home, away from home.

In the future the focus will be on what has taken place, the mutual benefits, and establishing projects that will involve more people. Links are a wheel of learning; we should look at our common curricula and establish areas of mutual benefit. In geography the developing world is taught; my staff could be valuable in providing resources. We should think of the expertise that each one of us can bring to the link. Some issues at my school cannot fit in the culture of UK schools and vice versa. It is important we sieve from the cultural pool. Links should belong to schools, not to individuals, which is why I want to see students, teachers, parents, and governors contribute.

Let us be learners and teachers: issues of lifestyles should be considered and appreciated. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" has been my motto on my visits. For example, I was hosted at a dinner where we were served lobster, the equivalent of crabs in my traditional language. In Uganda no one would dream of eating crabs, but I was told that we were honoured to have such an expensive and delicious dish. Adaptability worked very well for me and I enjoyed the meal. I trust my friends will feel the same when they are served the most important part of the chicken in Uganda: the gizzard.

I shall continue to attend SHA conferences for professional and leadership development. I would love to see more Ugandan heads participate in the meetings. This is where our links can help to open the eyes of others to opportunities they do not know about or do not bother to follow up. The future for our links is bright; please contact me if you wish to establish one.

Godfrey Kiganga is headmaster of Lords Meade college, Uganda. Email: lordsmeade@yahoo.com; kigangamg@yahoo.com

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