Kato Pursued University Dream Despite Lacking Tuition

Kato Pursued University Dream Despite Lacking Tuition

Kato remained determined to pursue his university dream, despite lacking the financial means to pay for tuition at the University.

Brief Background

  1. Kato Laban had to drop out of school in Primary Six. Despite facing financial difficulties and losing family property, he chose to leave home and support himself and along the way made friends.
  2. Kato received a scholarship during his second year at Makerere University, enabling him to graduate this year with a Bachelor of Commerce despite financial obstacles.

Laban Kato’s inspiring journey from humble beginnings to university graduation recently went viral on Twitter.

Despite being born into a family of 10, Kato says he did not attend nursery school but attended a primary school that was Church of Uganda based. His parents paid a modest fee of Shs1,000 per term until they could no longer afford it in Primary Six.

My father placed our family land as collateral to a Sacco to acquire a loan of Shs500,000 and he left home. He defaulted and the Sacco confiscated our property. When our mother protested, she was jailed for two weeks,

Kato recalls

“Towards the end of that year, I travelled to Kabale and stayed with a relative for a short time before I left for Kampala to seek greener pastures,” he added.

Kato explained how he lived with his aunt for eight months who was working at the police training school in Kibuli.

“At the beginning of 2007, my aunt helped me start an airtime business from which I used to earn Shs30,000,” Kato recollects.

A Story of Hope and Resilience

In 2008, while on his way home from work, he was robbed and left with nothing by an attacker.

“Part of the money that was stolen was capital from an uncle,” he shares.

Kato explains that his uncle suspected him of the theft and intended to have him arrested. However, an agreement was eventually reached with his aunt to repay the stolen funds.

“I worked the whole of 2008 to refund the money,” he says.

At the end of 2009, he started working for Mukwano Industries.
“I left home and co-rented a house with a friend of Shs 60,000 per month. I used to earn Shs3,500 per day,” Kato remembers.

One day, towards the end of the year he met his father walking to the Old Taxi Park. He told his father about his desire to return to school, and he gave him a chance,” he says.

Kato failed his Primary Seven entrance exam at Red Stars Primary School in Kasubi. The school suggested he joins Primary Five but he pleaded with them to allow him to attend Primary Seven and was eventually granted permission to do so
“I was given an opportunity to study Primary Seven and I scored Aggregate 17 at Primary Leaving Examinations,” Kato says.

He says when the results came out in 2011 his father declined to pay fees for Senior One.
“My father said he wanted me to complete primary school and fend for myself,” he says, adding that he had also promised him that if he found the money, he would take Kato to Kisekka Market for an apprenticeship in automotive mechanics”.

Read Also: Makerere University Kicks Off their 73rd Graduation

Turning point

Ignoring his father’s advice, Kato confessed to his friend Frederick about his dilemma one day.

“Frederick told me about Kampala High School whose tuition was Shs50,000 per term and offered me a job to wash his car, he says.

Kato had initially wanted Mengo Senior School but did not make the grades.
Frederick would be paying him Shs80,000 per month.

He gave Kato money for a school uniform which was Shs45,000shs. At the time Kato was staying with his father who was oblivious to his activities.

In his Senior Three, together with his mother they approached a legal organisation and sued the Sacco which had confiscated their family land. “By God’s grace, we won the case,” he says.

Towards the end of 2013, his friend Frederick was in a motor accident and later passed away. 

“Before his death, I was performing well in class because I read hard not to disappoint him,” he says. Kato got a job at an eatery but discovered he could not make as much to raise tuition. Then, he talked to his friend Molly who had a job at Equatorial Mall

“She promised to talk to her boss so that I could find a work placement,” he recollects. 

I was working at a restaurant where I had to do deliveries and sometimes cooked since I was studying Food and Nutrition at school,” Kato says. “I cooked recipes from my exercise book,” he smiles.
His wage was Shs8,000 and he left his father to co-rent with a friend.

“At the end of 2014, I sat for the Uganda Certificate of Examinations (UCE) and during my vacation, I was still working at the restaurant,” Kato says.

“She used to give me work in her office and pay me,” he says.
 His results came out and he had scored Aggregate 31. He returned to the same school and read Physics, Economics and Maths because he wanted to be an engineer.

courtesy daily monitor: Some of Laban Kato’s family members  in his childhood

Tough Times at A Level

“The tuition for A-Level was higher, so I had to keep working at the restaurant as I studied,” Kato explains.
He says he had a schedule for when he would go to school and the restaurant.
“My results came out in 2017 but I had eight points without two principal passes,” he recalls.

Kato says he spoke to a friend who advised him to repeat Senior Six and to register from Isingiro District.
“My friend promised to cater for everything. When I went to Isingiro he paid my registration fees,” he recalls.

Kato says in August 2017 he found out that he was not registered for UACE. The money for registration had been given to the headmaster of the school but it never made it to the bank.

“The headmaster was arrested and he refunded. I registered at another school in Church of God High School in Kasubi,” he says.

He worked during the day but would read with others in the evening hours. He wanted two principal passes that would propel him to university.
“I did the final exams and I got 12 points,” he shares.

Meanwhile, his boss had put the restaurant up for sale. With his friend, they pooled funds and bought off the business.

Kato applied to Makerere University for a Bachelor of Commerce and was admitted on August 15 2018, which was a milestone for him.

“In my first year, I paid my tuition using my savings,” Kato recalls.

In the first semester of his second year, they sold off the restaurant business due to the losses they were making.
“Our employees cheated us yet we had loans to service. So, we sold the business on goodwill and cleared the debts,” he says.

Breakthrough Point

Life became extremely hard, but one day, as he was walking around Mulago, he found students filling out forms for The Tertiary Education Scholarship Trust (TEST) for Africa which is under Oxford University.

“I printed a form and started looking for copies of my school documents to apply for a scholarship. A month later, I received a phone call saying I had got the scholarship,” Kato says.

He says before the scholarship, life at the university was hard and his grades, were not the best since he attended a few lectures with divided attention. He was always worried about his next source of tuition and livelihood.

After earning the scholarship, he decided to get a place in Lumumba Hall since his needs would be catered for under the scholarship.

“My friend who encouraged me to repeat Senior Six kept sending me some money even after I got the scholarship,” he recalls.

Plans for the Future

“I plan to start ACCA after graduation and I want to get a scholarship for my master’s degree,” he says.

Kato says he is looking for a job where he can earn a living. He says he would like to contest for a political position in his village when he is ready for the future.

Wishing Kato all the success in life, and hope such stories motivate our beloved readers.

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