Primary Institutions


Concurrent with core colonial endeavors missionaries consolidated their work building cathedrals/churches, and schools. As such, Uganda's formal educational infrastructure was born out of sacrifice of missionary activities pertinent with surviving built heritage of educational nature. First, an elementary mixed school (Kayanja) sprouted at Mengo in 1895, at the contemporary location of Mengo Primary School, next to Namirembe Cathedral. The earliest buildings comprised of reeds and grass thatch, which do not exist today. A 1904 Church Missionary Society conference resolved to build two new schools: one at Namirembe Hill and another at Budo in more durable materials. This development attracted rivalry from the Catholic missionaries, which spurred the opening of more schools and further construction of ecclesiastical buildings in other parts of the country.

To re-pick the thread of developments at Mengo, by the end of 1904 Namirembe Hill’s Kayanja School had put up brick buildings, which constituted boarding facilities for the sons of chiefs. Thereafter, it was re-named Mengo High School. According to records of the contemporary Mengo Senior School, (which was originally Mengo High School), formal opening of this school was officiated by the Acting Commissioner of the colonial government, Mr. George Wilson on 25th January 1905. The opening of Mengo High school did not imply the closure of the initial school. Rev. C.H.T. Ecob took over the superitendency of the old ‘Kayanja’ School while Mr. C.W. Hattersley, one of the renowned missionaries, paid attention to the new school. The ‘Old School’ today survives on as Mengo Primary School. The oldest buildings of Mengo Primary School and Mengo Senior School are therefore significant for having triggered formal primary and secondary education in Uganda.

Mengo Primary School

Mengo Primary School’s founder earth brick classroom block in 1897. Contains 5 class rooms and an Assembly Hall

One of Mengo Primary School’s buildings constructed in 1897.

Mengo Senior School

Sempa Block built in 1910
Sempa Block: an aerial view


A classroom block and the Administrative Offices of Mengo Senior School, and a closer view of part of the Head-teacher’s office built in 1910

Mengo S.S. first residence built for the Headmaster in 1910.    


One among the earth brick buildings of Mengo SS of 1910.  : Original Banana Fibre ceiling material that was used to keep the buildings in Mengo Senior School cool. Still in use today among its oldest buildings.

Girls’ Education: Developments at Gayaza

Gayaza Junior Boarding Primary School.

During the formative years after the sprouting of the Mengo schools, a move was made by CMS to counter the negative attitude towards girls’ education. Consequently, a girls’ school was started at Ngogwe, which later settled at Gayaza. Effective girls education therefore commenced in Gayaza Primary School from 1905 and it is reminisced in these earliest buildings below.

The earliest Classroom Block still in use. View from the East.

Gayaza High School

Old Senior House, viewed from the South-East.
Former official residence of each headmistress of Gayaza High school.

Old Senior House, viewed from North-West.

The Sewing Room. Constructed at the same time with the Old Senior House.

Old Agricultural Laboratory. Still in use for this purpose.

Hannington Laboratory. Built in memory of Bishop Hannington

Samalia (Good Samaritan) House. Matron’s Residence

King’s College Budo, Wakiso District.

As noted earlier Kings College Budo was born out of the1904 Missionary Conference held at Mengo. The man at the helm of its foundations was Sabaganzi Walter Henry Weathershead, a product of a Trinity College, Cambridge in the UK. Weathershead had come to Uganda together with Dr. Albert Cook as CMS missionaries. Political genius of Sir Apolo Kagwa enabled the award of Budo Hill for the site of King’s College on a prime Royal Buganda cultural landscape. Accordingly, the College shares a boundary with the coronation spot for Buganda’s Kings and for not less than four hundred years, the kings have been crowned at that spot, (McGregor, 2006). King’s College Budo is laid out with green robust quadrangles on the model of Trinity College Cambridge. The photos below show the most historic buildings of the College.

Headmaster’s Office Headmaster’s Residence, View from the North-West.

Detail of an antique Budonian water constructed with burnt bricks.


Constructed between 1907 and 1908, the College’s Dining Hall was originally built as a workshop for introduction of technical education in memory of Alexander Mackay. However, it was remolded and expanded by students of the time between 1930 and 1931 to become the Dining Hall to date.

Built in 1908, this is the College’s dining hall, a memorial to Alexander Mackay.


The earliest dormitory on Budo College Campus was built in 1905 while plans for building more dormitories and a chapel were ready that same year.

Some of the dormitories for the boys of Kings College Budo.

‘The Arch’ built in 1926.

A Classroom block, contemporary of the Arch

The present Chapel of Kngs College Budo completed at the end of 1964.

Namilyango College

Namilyango College was founded by the Mill Hill Fathers in March 1902. It can be said to have been the first in providing higher level education than the others, which commenced as either bush schools or central schools. Whereas at the founding of the College, its curriculum emphasized catechism, it also included secular components of training youngsters for civil service. Another peculiarity with the missionary opening of Namilyango College is that it preceded the building of Namilyango Parish Catholic Church unlike other instances in which the sequence was vice versa. Nevertheless, some of its historic buildings now used for teaching were actually constructed as church buildings.

Namilyango College and its historic buildings have curved out significant historic importance in Uganda, first as the oldest boarding secondary School in Uganda. Secondly, it has been among the most prominent educational institutions producing prominent academics, public servants, sports stars, etc. Some of the first buildings in 1902 were of loam and are non-existent today. However, brick construction quickly superseded loam structures more from 1902 as well and they still stand today. The following photos manifest Namilyango’s heritage of historic buildings.

The Central Administration unit in the centre flanked with classrooms on either side. The middle portion is a later addition. Otherwise the rest of the structures were built at the commencement of the College.

The Chemistry Laboratory built first as chapel.

Another Classroom block

House Hanolon built in 1902, It is nick-named ‘House of Lords’ by Old Boys who resided in it.

House Hanolon is one among standing structures built in 1902. It is a residential facility for Senior Three students. It is named after Bishop Henry Hanolon, the first Mill Hill missionary who led the Mill Hill missionary group to Uganda. Its architecture radiates a colonial building style. Remembered for having triggered catholicization in Buganda and eastern Uganda and all Mill-driven institutions in Uganda, Hanolon stayed in Uganda from 1895 until 1911.


A classroom block built in 1902 The College Dining Hall: The Redbrick elements are later additions to the original structure. The Chapel of Namilyango College.

 St. Mary’s College Kisubi

Foundations of St. Mary’s College Kisubi are closely associated with Stanislas Mugwanya a prominent regent of Buganda Kingdom, who together with other Catholic chiefs in 1899 drew attention to the matter of higher education for Catholic youngsters. As a result, 1906 St. Mary’s College by then called St. Mary’s High School was founded at Lubaga by Father Modeste Raux a French White Father. While still in Rubaga, the first building of the College was opened in 1908 and two other structures emerged in 1909. It was in 1922 that the name was changed by the parents to St. Mary’s College. Owing to insufficiency in space for future expansion at Rubaga, a search for an alternative site commenced in 1922 with a focus on land at Kisubi that had been accorded to the Congregation of White Fathers by Kabaka Mutesa I in 1884. Subsequenty, this prospect proved viable and the institution shifted to Kisubi in May 1924. Some of the buildings constructed at that time no longer stand as they had to be demolished because of infestation of termites. However, some of the college’s historic buildings are represented in the following photos.

Built between 1922 and 1924. The present Biology Laboratory built in 1939.  

The Library built in 1964 memory of 14 students who died in a tragic motor accident. It was opened by Lord Snowdon on 21st March 1965.

The present Administrative Block

Makerere College School
Makerere College School came into existence in 1945 as a demonstration school for the then Makerere University College’s School of Education. As such, the problem of a ground for teaching practice for scholars on pathways of teacher education was readily solved. However, it commenced its existence in a core of initial buildings that had already been part of the University College. Nevertheless those historic buildings still surviving are worth recognition and are reflected in the photos below.

Main Administration Block constructed in late 1920s.

The Bio Lab, is one of the first buildings of Makerere College School. It was built in 1928. View from north east          View from south East

S.2 Yellow Class Room (with pillars). The first classroom of the school now sandwiched between new structures.

Busoga College Mwiri

Busoga College Mwiri was founded in 1911 by combined effort of the chiefs of Busoga and the Church Missionary Society in Uganda. The College first commenced at Kamuli under the names of Balangira High School to educate the ‘royals’. The School was briefly housed at Kings College Budo in 1932 because of an epidemic of butoni plague in its location at Kamuli. Thereafter, it obtained its present home in 1933 on top of Mwiri Hill overlooking Madhivani Sugar Estate and the surrounding panoramic landscapes, Lake Victoria and Jinja town.
In Uganda’s historical perspective. Busoga College Mwiri is noted for having schooled from 1945 to 1947 the country’s first executive Prime Minister and twice a President, Apollo Milton Obote, and proliferation of the national motto – For God and My Country’. Accordingly, Mwiri’s school motto, Ku Lwa Katonda N’egwanga Lyaffe, is what Dr. Obote translated into English to become the national motto – For God and My Country, (Oluka, 2005). The following photos contain some of the surviving buildings that made the college into what it is today.
Construction of the first buildings shown below for the College was commissioned by Eziekeri Wako, the then President of Busoga Lukiko on 12th May 1932. Their construction commenced straight away in preparation for opening of the college on this campus in 1933.

The first classroom block

These buildings have now changed their roles initially for teaching and/or accommodation. They are now used for general purpose storage

The above building (left) now serves as a piggery while the other(right) offers residential space.

Classrooms that followed after 1933.

This building contains Senior 2 and 3, the Deputy Headmaster’s Office and the Main Hall. It was constructed between 1940 and 1944.


                                 The College’s Dispensary(left, of 1959) and the College Chapel (right) built early 1960s.

The Headmaster’s Palace built in 1940s.

One of the massive underground water tanks built in 1960s.