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I am Jokondino Okema son of late Marino Penytoo and late Julia Auma . I was born on 2nd Febrary 1961. I am the 4th of 10 children born to my parents. I began school in 1967 when I was 6 years old. This age was considered early for the people of that time because schools were not many and children walked long distances to school. I was lucky that our home was near Pagak P.7 school. My first classmates were 10 to 12 years old. At school I liked English and did well at it. When I reached primary four I took interest in science too. I hated Mathematics because the teacher was rude, unkind and uncompromising. He very frequently used the cane to punish those who did not perform well in his subject. This had a great impact in my later performance in the subject not until much later when I was in senior three.

My father was a devout catholic so he sent me to study in the seminary after I had completed the primary classes. I went to Aboke Seminary. But this seminary went only up to senior two. So in 1978 I had to come to Gulu to join Lacor Seminary for senior three and four.

Statue of Jesus in front of the seminary chapel
Statue of Jesus in front of the seminary chapel

It was from here that I picked interest in mathematics. There was at that time a fine Italian sister( nun ) who was exceptionally good at the subject. Sr. Esther ( RIP) put in me the love for the subject I had once dreaded. I became one of the best mathematicians in my class. The late sister loved me for it. Although I like Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, I performed best in English. I joined both the debating and drama clubs and excelled in them. I remember in1979 I was the declared the best actor in a drama contest organised by the chaplain of the Young Christian Students (YCS) of Gulu secondary school students.

After senior four (O Level), I left the seminary and joined Mbale Secondary School in eastern Uganda; that was in 1980 after the overthrow the dictator Idi Amin Dada. I had not been outside northern region where 90% of the inhabitants are Nilotics.

Mbale SSS students 2010. I  wore the same school uniform 30 years ago
Mbale SSS students 2010. I wore the same school uniform 30 years ago

I went to Mbale Secondary School for A Level studies. A Level in Uganda are the last two years of studies in order for one to qualify for tertiary education ie university for a bachelor's degree or a diploma or other institutions for diploma in a specified discipline. I studied physics, chemistry and mathematics.Choosing these three subjects was one of my greatest blunders in choice in my life. The three subjects were my favourites but not my best. I should have gone for Literature in English, History and Divinity; but because of my own ambition to become an engineer coupled by lack of guidance, I made that mess and messed myself up.At the end of the course, I didn't make it to the university; more unfortunately, Uganda had only one university at that time. I could have repeated senior six but my dad had other children to pay in school----- I hope you still recall that I am the forth of the ten children that my parents had.

My father needed someone to help him in paying fees for those younger than me. There was nobody else other than me. That was whem I joined the teaching profession though I did not have the qualification yet. Teachers like me comprised a big percentage of Uganda teachers at that time ie 1983. My first school of teaching was Pagak P.7 School.

I have been teaching mainly English Language and Intergrated Science. By intergrated science I mean a combination of all the sciences ie physics, chemistry, biology, health science and agriculture. These disciplines are taught as a subject in the Ugandan Primary school curicullum. I also picked interest in music although I did not study it in school. It may be surprising to you but that is what I did. I learnt most of my music through practise. Right now I am not bad at it. Yearly the Ministry of Education and sports organises a natrional festival on a selected theme and school choirs compete on the given theme.

I taught these boys....

kaladima choir on original compositionafrican style-- go to school, back to school, stay in school

When the present government came into power in1986, and then later they set up a programme to train all the untrained teachers like me. This was called Teacher Development and Management System (TDMS) It is an in-service course. I joined the programme and completed it successfully. This I did when I had been transferred to another school -- Kaladima Primary Scho that was in 1991l. Kaladima is about 4 kilometres west of Pagak.

I was later brought back to Pagak in 2004 uptill 2008. In 2009, Iwas shifted to Lacor Primary School where I am now.