Use of witchcraft to undermine the Humanist school at Mbute

We have just received this disturbing report from Peter Kisirinya, the Director of the Isaac Newton Schools, on the latest attempt to use witch craft to undermine the Humanist School at Mbute:

IMG_0369In recent months Isaac Newton High School at Mbute has had to cope with false claims of spirits invading the students at the school. We have learned that the rumours have been spread by a local group who are trying to establish their own competing school within the vicinity.

Four students attending school at Mbute, who come from families with links to the proposed new school, faked possession by spirits and claimed that there were evil spirits in the school which were aiming to kill two students and three teachers.

Information was sent to local press that the spirits had burnt down school buildings, because the managing director of the school had opposed their claims publicly and humiliated them in front of the school community.  They informed the newspaper that our school, being a humanist school, did not believe in the existence of spirits. Consequently the spirits were annoyed to the extent of burning the school down.

However, local reporters called Peter Kisirinya, the School’s Director, and came to the school to interview him and the school bursar. They were surprised and reassured to find absolutely nothing related to the story they had been given. There had been no fire and they could see that the school was operating normally. As we are concerned for the safety of the staff and students, we have now officially reported the matter to police and the Ministry of Education and Sports.

The clear purpose of the rumours and actions was to instil fear in students and parents so that they transfer their children to the new school at the beginning of the new year. It was also intended to persuade our teachers abandon the school under fear of witchcraft killing some of them.

In order to allay fears in the local community, I am holding a series of meetings with all local stakeholders, parents and community leaders. I have allayed their fears in open meetings (see photograph of parents in school above) and they have been in to the school to see that it is operating normally and that the staff and students are happy and working purposefully.  I am staying at the school, day and night, to demonstrate to students and parents that they need have no fear of spirits and the super-natural. I have opened up my daily S4 and S3 science practical lessons so that parents can come along and be reassured that their children are receiving a high standard of teaching.

We have also strengthened staffing at the school by offering part-time, temporary contracts to four of the brightest A-level students from INHS Masaka, who are now going to be teaching at Mbute before they go off to university. Two will be studying education to train as teachers and two have been given government scholarships to study diplomas in Agriculture and Secondary education.”