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West Nile schools hit by housing crisis
ARUA- As the crises of inadequate classrooms continue to hit schools, a primary school in the resource-constrained West Nile region has started teaching two different classes in the same room at same time.
A shelter at Gbukutu Orphanage Primary School, Koboko, West Nile. Photo by Vibeke Quaade
04. May 2009
Each class occupies half of the room while facing opposite directions. Teachers stand with their blackboards at the both end of the classroom. This strange but true practice is viewed by the school authorities as better alternative to teaching pupils under tree shades.
At Ajia Complementary Opportunity for Primary Education (COPE) centre, P2 and P3 are crowded in one classroom in this fashion. There is only one building, having two rooms, one for office and the other a classroom. P1 and P4 sit under the mango trees nearby; their book covers almost all torn because the dew from the mango leaves falls on them.
The school teacher, Andama J Ndebu, teaches all the four classes everyday as his other colleagues have deserted for lack of payment or are taken up by farm work due to the rain season. He complains that all the essential requirements for a primary school are lacking.
“We don’t have chalk, the teachers actually contribute to buy chalk but now I’m struggling alone; there is no source of drinking water near this school,” Ndebu lamented.
Ajia COPE centre was established by the UNICEF to raise pupils because they believed that after this stage, the children become big enough to walk the over four kilometres to the nearest school.
As they left, the sub-county was supposed to take over the management but as usual, the sub-county officials lamented lack of funds for running the school. But before you say this is too bad, Mt. Liru Primary school in Koboko district is worse off.
One classroom is divided into four by imaginary lines. One section is where the P4 are taught, the other is for the P6; the third section is the headmaster’s office and the last portion is the staff room. P1 and P2 sit under an old fig tree and only taste the inside of a classroom when they graduate into P3.
Aliga Yunus Awaa, the Koboko District Education Officer blamed school administrators for expanding their class numbers without consulting the district that he claimed would have budgeted for their housing needs.
One of the class rooms at Kamira Primary School with a broken floor. Photo by Patrick Jaramogi
Aliga also claimed that KOCISONET was encouraging junior officers like headmasters to misbehave by allowing them speak publicly issues that should have been handled administratively in his office.
But Grace Akandru, the Coordinator of KOCISONET said in order to build local democracy, promote accountability and good governance in a peaceful environment, suppression of the free expression of divergent opinion must be discouraged.
“To say this forum has a demoralising impact on civil servants may be a sign of lack of vigilance and tolerance,” she said.
KOCISONET, founded by 14 CSOs in 2006, started this kind of open discussion two years ago after it was discovered that the officials at the district were simply shelving every critical information on their poor performance in the areas of service delivery and accountability for funds.
Most of the rural schools complained that their UPE funds were been deducted from the source by the District Officials without any explanation; teacher’s housing conditions are wanting and class blocks shoddily constructed.
At Kumari primary school located where Koboko, Nyadri and Yumbe district borders meet, a multi-million four classroom block constructed in August 2008 is out of use. The walls and floors developed scary cracks. A four-million VIP latrine too cracked from the slab upwards and isn’t used at all.
The school has 500 pupils but there are only six teachers, four of whom reside at the quarters. They wonder if the ailing mud and wattle class buildings will survive the next rain season.
This article was first published by The Observer
Drasimaku Richard is a Journalist with The Observer, based in Arua,