Sometime in 2019, I happened to attend an ICT teachers’ retooling workshop at King’s College Budo. I was so excited to attend this workshop that was also the climax of all workshops organised by the ICT Teachers’ Association of Uganda. On top of the learning that I was looking forward too, I wanted to physically see Mr. Dumba Stephen, a unique teacher who had mesmerized me with his articles on the ITAU website and tireless work for the ICT Teachers Association.
But because it was a 1-day workshop, my anticipated time with Dumba Stephen wasn’t long enough as I had to travel back to Luwero. But there is one thing I cannot forget about him in the 1 minute I spent with him. I asked him how he does his thing and his reply was simply “Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded“.
These words sank so well and reminded me that in order to excel in our field as teachers, we have to keep discovering new ways of teaching. Since 2019, I kept on following Mr. Dumba’s activities from teachers’ workshops to community activities and his open classes at E-zone School of Computing. But just when I thought I had seen the best of him, he surprised the ICT teachers’ fraternity with another first – teaching Computer in Luganda. Indeed, this was another area that wasn’t crowded.
Who is Dumba Stephen?
On the 11th of December 2021 I received a call from Mukalele Rogers, another pillar in the ICT Teachers Association. He was requesting me to stand in for him at an EdTech training for the teachers’ of Tijhaar Community School Nkondo in Kakumiro District. Offcourse I was elated to have such an opportunity but what made me jump in celebration was the fact that I was going to facilitate alongside my mentor, Dumba Stephen. This was like a dream come true. Spending 3 full days in the company of Dumba Stephen was like a gift to me. And from Monday 13th December 2021, I had the priviledge to ask and get to know more about this rare breed of teacher.
Dumba Stephen first touched a computer in the year 2000. This opportunity came when the late Mr. Wabwire, a lecturer at NTC Kaliro asked him to clean the computer lab. Mr. Dumba went on to volunteer as a lab cleaner which gave him a chance to interact with the machines on almost daily basis.
Eventually, like luck would have it, his mother paid for his first computer lessons under the guidance of the late Wabwire. Mr. Dumba went on to join NTC Kaliro where he enrolled for a Diploma in Business Education, the only course then that had a computer module.
After college, Mr. Dumba had a stint at East Secondary School in Jinja before switching to working at an Internet cafe in Jinja. A few years later, Mr. Dumba decided to try his luck in Kampala. Unfortunately, all efforts hit a dead end. He then went on a hiatus that went on for four years.
With the guidance and support from his brother, Mr. Dumba started a secretarial bureau in Nabbingo in 2007. It is because of this experience that Mr. Dumba wrote an article on this very website “What you need to start a secretarial business.” I noticed that most of Mr. Dumba’s articles are from first hand experience.
The secretarial bureau eventually started offering computer lessons. Mr. Dumba’s computer school has groomed hundreds of people and is proud of his products. Mr. Dumba is proud of his very first student, Sulaiman Hussein Luzzi, now a qualified teacher of ICT and member of the ICT Teachers Association. Sulaiman to this day finds time off to help with students at E-zone School especially during school holidays.
Mr. Dumba also inevitably learnt how to repair computers. This helped him manage the computers at the secretarial bureau which eventually morphed into an internet cafe.
Mr. Dumba’s technical skills earned him a job at St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya where he worked in the computer lab for 6 years up to 2015. During this time, Mr. Dumba mentored many students while at St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya, and now has a loyal following of young adults spread across careers and the globe.
Mr. Dumba left St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya at the end of 2015 to concentrate on his businesses and new path as a facilitator and speaker at workshops and tech events.
What motivated the Computer lessons in Luganda?
According to him, his students come from all walks of life. From 7 year olds to retired civil servants, from university students to out of schools lads, his classes are diverse. But one category that keeps growing is that of kyeyo returnees who wish to gain some form of computer skills. This category is also to diverse that while some are comfortable with lessons in English, there is a sizeable number that prefers a laisezz-faire approach.
Mr. Dumba tried out a computer lesson in Luganda with one student and the results were amazing. Concepts were easily grasped, lessons were fun and the entire certificate was covered in record time. This changed everything. He took 2 weeks off to prepare video lessons of all Microsoft applications with Luganda explanations. Off course, there were mixed feelings from the ICT Teachers fraternity but Mr. Dumba insists that in order to promote digital literacy, there is a need to get t as many people as possible, some of whom may not be comfortable with English.
What else does Mr. Dumba do?
Mr. Dumba repairs computers, designs websites and is an ICT/EdTech facilitator. He is currently the coordinator for central region in the ICT Teachers’ Association of Uganda.
Mr. Dumba is also the brain behind senior1.org, Uganda’s first elearning platform dedicated only to the new lower secondary school curriculum. My 4 days with Mr. Dumba were an experience I will always remember. Just when you thought teaching had lost meaning, the words from him show you that there is more to teaching than going to the 4 walls of the classroom. He encouraged me to always think of ways of making the world a better place through our lessons, one student at a time.
As we parted ways on return from Kakumiro, I asked him why he was so passionate about teaching even when the returns seemed low, his reply? “Of what use is knowledge if it cannot be passed on to others?”
About Ogwal Isaac.