160 Schools Operate Under Trees in Three New Districts

2942 Views Nakaseke, Uganda

In short
More than 40 of the schools in Nakasongola and 60 schools spread in Nakaseke district do not have decent facilities for learners. Most of them have dilapidated structures characterized by cracks and leaking roofs. A number of them were abandoned out of a fear that they could collapse on the learners.

Over 160 primary schools in Nakasongola, Nakaseke and Kalungu districts are still operating under trees.

Nakasongola and Nakaseke districts were carved out of Luweero district, while Kalungu was carved out of Masaka. Proponents of the creation of new districts argued that splitting the mother districts was vital for improving service delivery.

There are 113 government primary schools in Nakaseke district and 144 governments aided primary schools in Nakasongola. However, more than 40 of the schools in Nakasongola and 60 schools spread in Nakaseke district do not have decent facilities for learners.

Most of them have dilapidated structures characterized by cracks and leaking roofs. A number of them were abandoned out of a fear that they could collapse on the learners.

These schools operate under trees and in dilapidated mud structures some of which can turn out to be death traps for the learners. Some of the schools do not have a single classroom block. Although a number of them were destroyed by rains, some lost structures during the National Resistance Army-led Liberation struggle and have not been rebuilt more than 30 years since the end of the war.

They include Kyalweza, Kiwambya, Kalongo, Kaleire, Kikooba, Njeru Lusanja and Kyamukama primary school among others in Nakasongola district. Others are St. Mark Kirinda, Lujjumbi, Kabale, Mityomere, Lukeese primary school and St. Joseph Katale Primary School, among others, in Nakaseke district.

St Mark Kirinda Primary School is operating without a single classroom since the structures were brought down by heavy rains, so many years ago.  The school's Head Teacher Wilson Wasswa says they now utilize tree shades in their vicinity to facilitate lessons for learners.

Wasswa adds that they tried to mobilize parents to reconstruct the blocks in vain.
 
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Prossy Nakaye, a parent of St Mark Kirinda Primary school says that they are equally worried about their children's safety at a school that keeps them under the trees all day long.  Similarly, Evelyn Nanyonjo another parent says they too are deprived to contribute toward the reconstruction of the school structures.
 
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Fredrick Erigada, the head teacher of St. Joseph Katale Primary School in Nakaseke district says that the school is operating with only two permanent classrooms. The rest of the classrooms juggle with the two temporary structures on the site and tree shades.

Erigada says that lack of a conducive environment has partly contributed to their poor performance in National Examinations.

Patrick Mubiru, a pupil at St Joseph Katale Primary says the destruction from by-passers greatly affects their concentration. It's reported that some parents have started withdrawing their children from the affected schools taking them to schools with better facilities.

The Nakaseke District Education Officer Steven Batanudde says that majority of the schools in the district need renovation but the district is equally financially incapacitated, an indication that governments much-anticipated decentralization policy could not have made an indelible impact in refining learning environment of school children and improving education services.

Batanudde says that availability of classrooms not only favours learning but also attracts pupils and teachers in schools.

Nakaseke district receives 122 million Shillings under School Facilitation Grant every financial year.  However, according to the District Chairman Ignatius Koomu Kiwanuka, the funding can only cater for four classrooms. Koomu blames the government for killing the spirit of parents' involvement in the construction of schools.
 
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In Nakasongola district, George William Kajura, the District Education Officer says every financial year they receive 184 million Shillings under the School Facilitation Grant. The money is spent on responding to toilet crisis rather constructing classrooms.
 
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Another 60 primary schools in Kalungu district are operating in dilapidated structures. The district has a total a total of 91 Universal Primary Education schools.

But most of them are in a sorry state, twisting towards deathtraps for the occupants. Some of the schools with poor infrastructure are Mukoko Primary School, Kalungu Primary School, Kabungo Church of Uganda Primary School, Kabukunge Muslim Primary school, Butawata Primary School, Bukulula Primary School and St Alex Kirowooza Primary School among others. Other schools are St Kizito Nalinnya and Kiti primary school.

Two of the classroom blocks at Kabungo Church of Uganda Primary School are at the verge of collapse, putting at risk, the lives of more than 500 pupils that attend the school every day. The structures have no windows and their roofs are leaking.

Henry Lukyamuzi, the Chairperson of Kalungu Head Teachers Association says that at least 60 primary schools are operating in dilapidated classroom structures. Lukyamuzi, who is also the head teacher of St Alex Primary School Kirowooza, notes that in his school, 804 pupils struggle to fit in the few available classrooms.

Each class at the school accommodates more than 100 pupils, squeezed into the rooms with hardly any reading space or comfort of stretching their legs.
 
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Joseph Mugerwa, a resident of Kirowooza, wonders why Government cannot construct new classroom blocks for the schools. He says lack of infrastructure could be contributing to poor grades across the region.

Kalungu District Education Officer David Bbale Mukasa acknowledges the infrastructural and human resource shortfalls in the district. He says the district needs at least 100 teachers in primary schools and 70 in secondary schools to fill the gaps. However, the Ministry of Public service has only allowed them to recruit 30 primary school teachers due to budgetary constraints.
 
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Kalungu district received 1.2 billion Shillings from the World Bank to construct classrooms at St Charles Lwanga Primary School and Kiti primary school.
Kalungu District Leaders say the district does not have enough local revenue to fund infrastructural development in schools.
 
State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo admitted that many schools across the country were in a deplorable state. Muyingo explained that although the government has put some money in the budget for the construction and renovation of schools, the available resources were not enough to address the high demand.

Muyingo says the government is now courting development partners like World Bank and African Development Bank, among others, to support the reconstruction of schools.

Through Global Partnership for Education and Uganda Teacher and School Effectiveness Project (UTSEP), World Bank will fund construction of 83 schools in Uganda.