Student crafts bricks to pay tuition

By Agatha N Biira

In 2017, when Bazibu Magidu had completed his S4, his mother told him that she could no longer afford his school fees. “She told me she had done her part and it was now my journey,” he said.

Magidu lost his father when he was in P2. With no one to rely on, Magidu had to decide whether to let that be the end of his education or continue the journey on his own. “S4 was not enough for me. I wanted more but my mother couldn’t support me,” he said.

Feeling deserted and alone, he decided to give his life to Christ. He recalls his friend, whom he only remembers as Tom, talking to him about Psalms 27:10. “My father and mother may abandon me, but the Lord will take care of me.”

When he heard this verse, he knew that there was hope for him. Magidu, who was a Muslim, converted to Christianity and adopted the name Emmanuel. What seemed like a lonely journey for Magidu turned out to be an opportunity for personal development.

In 2018, he left his home in Nakavule, Mayuge district to Mukono in search of a job. He started by making chapatis in Nyenje and Mukono, but he wasn’t getting enough money from it. After two months, Magidu ventured into brick-making.

By February 2019, he had made enough to pay for his A-level education. He enrolled at Alliance Victory Senior Secondary School in Bugiri district, where he completed his A-level.

When schools closed in 2020 as one of the lockdown measures, Magidu returned to Nyenje, where he continued making bricks, but this time to save up for university. He continued with this even after he had completed his S6. 

In 2021, Magidu applied for a Bachelor of Information and Technology at Uganda Christian University (UCU), but he was unable to proceed. “I thought I would pay 1.5 million at most. I was shocked when I was told that we had to pay Shs. 3.2 million,” Magidu said. “I had only 1 million. So, I enrolled for a diploma instead.” 

Asked why he opted for UCU despite the high fee structure, he said, “I was only looking at Christian-founded institutions that were near Nyenje, and UCU was the only option.”

Magibu was able to pay tuition for his first year. However, in 2022, in his second year, he was unable to complete the tuition for the first semester. Having paid Shs. 500,000, he still had a balance of Shs. 100,000 which without clearance, he would fail to sit the final exams. 

It was then that he applied for “Save a Buddy,” a scheme meant to support needy students at UCU, and he was considered. He also applied for the Guild Fund, (a students’ fund at UCU meant to help students who fail to clear their dues by the set deadline) which he also benefited from and he was able to sit his exams. 

When that semester ended, they were told that they would proceed to the second semester without any holiday. This only meant one thing—he wouldn’t be able to raise tuition for that semester.

Magidu always used the holiday and weekends to make bricks, but with classes from Monday to Saturday and no holiday, that wouldn’t be possible. “I applied for the Just 4 10k campaign and I was considered for the tuition top-up,” he said. 

Now waiting for graduation, Magidu plans on enrolling for a Bachelor of Information and Technology at UCU this year. Tenth of 22 children, Magidu is the first to come this far in education, with the rest dropping out of school as early as S3.

Seeing how far he has come, Magidu says he plans on building schools where he can help other people in similar situations. “What happened to me happens to many children out there. I cannot disregard the efforts my parents made. I would love to come through for other children who need the help someday,” he said.

Pursuing IT was not a dream for Magidu but rather a way to solve a problem in his society. “People in my home area are clueless about technology, and yet it is becoming a part of us. So, I wanted to be the person that could solve tech-related problems in my area,” he said.

Growing up, Magidu lived a life of survival. Having started school in P1 at Weza Primary School in Mayuge district, Magidu wore his first pair of shoes when he was going to sit for his final exams in P7.

He recalls hiring shoes from his neighbor just for those two days when he was sitting his Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). “I was so excited and bragged that they were my shoes, yet deep down I knew they were not,” Magidu said.

Merab Kwikiriza, Magidu’s mother, says she is happy that he chose to continue with his studies even without her help. “During the long holidays, he does gardening. I usually sell the foodstuffs he planted and send him the money to top up his tuition,” she said.

Jesse Wasswa, one of his classmates, says Magidu is passionate about his studies. “He always attends lectures and also shows up for group discussions. Despite having financial setbacks, I am glad he has been able to finish,” he said. 

Meddie Mapooli, Magidu’s friend, refers to him as a trustworthy person. “He is a good person to work with. Any amount of money he gets goes toward clearing his school fees. He barely uses his money for other things,” Mapooli said.

In a bid to help students who are unable to raise or complete tuition payments before the deadline, UCU has introduced initiatives and campaigns such as Word 4 Study, Save a Buddy, and the most recent, Just 4 10,000, a fundraising campaign intended to support the education of needy students at UCU.