By Gladys Kalibbala
ENTEBBE - Reports from the ministry of education indicate that Uganda has made tremendous progress towards achieving MDG 2, which deals with Universal Primary Education.
To realize this Millennium Development Goal, the government brought to life free primary education in 1997, and the numbers of children enrolled into primary school have been growing since then.
But 17 years on, the surge in the numbers of primary school-going children has brought with it its own challenges. Many pupils under this programme have been forced to study from under trees and in the open due to the absence, or shortage, of necessary facilities.
In some areas, fortunately, there are efforts to turn this around. One such area is Entebbe municipality, which caters for children from many islands on Lake Victoria.
The municipality recently commissioned a couple of projects worth about sh948 million and among these ventures are classrooms for a number of schools in the area, namely;
- a sh61m storied building at Kiwafu Muslim Primary School
- a two-roomed classroom block at Nakiwogo Primary School at a cost of sh50m
- two classrooms at Air Force Primary School, Katabi at sh79m
(All photos by Gladys Kalibbala)
Opening of the new toilet at Bugonga Primary School
Entebbe Mayor Vincent De Paul Kayanja and municipal Councilors checking on the construction of the Katabi Health Centre III
The new building at Nakiwogo Primary School
Mayor Kayanja and Captain Joseph Bahikire, the Commanding Officer for Marines Base open the new toilet at Marines Primary School
The deputy resident district commissioner (RDC) for Entebbe, Rose Nalongo Kirabira, urged parents to enroll more of their children into the UPE programme.
“Don’t listen to propaganda claiming the programme has not benefitted anyone. Instead embrace it to give opportunity to your children to get free education,” she said.
She also underlined the need for the municipality to get land titles for all their schools and keep them safe.
As a way of ensuring school safety, Entebbe mayor Vincent de Paul Kayanja promised that all the 17 primary schools in the municipality would be fenced in the 2014/2015 financial year.
He further explained that out of the 32 municipal properties like schools markets and playgrounds, 19 have already been surveyed and their title deeds are now in the final stages of processing.
Other schools which did not get classrooms received new toilets which came with advice to pupils to always wash their hands with soap and after use.
Bugonga Boys Primary School and Marines Primary School each got a toilet each build at a cost of sh36m.
The commanding officer of the marine barracks, Captain Joseph Bahikire, thanked the municipality for the great work done, and appealed to the municipal to recruit more teachers into the schools, saying the ones available now are fewer than required.
Meanwhile, at Nakiwogo landing site, it was excitement as a new toilet, costing sh50m to build, was opened.
The new toilet facility was seen as a relief by mostly the heavy people who work at the site’s market. Some told New Vision that for the previous five years since the opening of the market, they had never been able to use the two available mobile toilets because they “are too small to fit into”.
“I could not pass through its door because it is small and so I had to run back home whenever I needed to use a toilet!” said one of the traders.
The municipal leaders commissioned Bugonga Rd and Alice Reef Rd
The mayor inspects the construction of classroom buildings at Kiwafu Muslim School
The proposed plan for classroom buildings at Kiwafu Muslim School
Mayor Kayanja, who was accompanied by municipal councilors, also launched two roads – Alice Reef Rd and Bugonga Rd – completed recently.
Other two roads, Sebugwawo Rd and Sewabuga Rd, are still under construction.
Katabi Health Centre III, estimated at a cost of sh180m, is still under construction and expected to be completed soon.
Through its maternity ward, the health facility will relieve the pressure on Entebbe General Hospital which receives many pregnant women, some coming from as far as the islands.
A Democratic Party (DP) diehard, Kayanja called on fellow politicians to stop politicizing government projects. “Avoid such cheap politics and instead explain to voters what you can offer so that they give you votes.”