OMUTHIYA - About 300 learners at Oniipa Primary School will be taught in tents, as the school is without proper infrastructure to accommodate them. This follows a strong wind that ripped off the roofs of an entire classroom block last year November. “It is tough and rough,” said principal Matias Mpinga, while narrating the challenge faced by the school. Since then, the learners were temporarily placed in tents to undertake their examination, with a view that the situation might be resolved, come this academic year.
The storm also damaged ablution facilities, which consists of six pit latrines that serve the school’s over 1 000 pupils. Mpinga said the school is facing a daunting challenge in addition to overcrowded classrooms. He said, some classes have about 47 learners, which is way above the required learner-teacher ratio of 35:1.
When this reporter visited the school last week, some learners were observed being addressed under trees, while others were busy clearing the grass to set up tents. Pupils affected are from Grade 4 to 6. “Classes are crowded, while some learners are being taught in tents. That poses a double challenge, which leads to poor performance. Officials came last year to do an assessment of the damage and it was resolved that a new block should be constructed, as repairing the old building is not viable; it would cost more,” stated Mpinga.
“Our hope was to see progress when school re-opens, but we are disappointed to note that not even a foundation has been laid. We were informed that money was going to be sourced from an emergency fund to address the issue, but to date, nothing has happened.” Mpinga also lamented the deplorable state of the school’s ablution facilities, saying the pit toilets pose a great risk of disease outbreaks, considering the fact that the number of learners has also gone up. In terms of enrolment, he said, despite the classes being full to the rafters, more parents are still flocking to the school, seeking placement of their children. As a result, there are about 100 pupils on the waiting list. To that effect, Mpinga, said he will wait until today, which is a cut-off day to see whether or not they can still accommodate learners. “Every year, the number is increasing and the infrastructure can no longer sustain. We are just doing it because we can not turn away learners. This area is mostly surrounded by private schools; hence, it is very important to parents who cannot afford,” he said. Efforts to get comment from the educational director Aletta Eises proved futile despite several attempts.