Hard work, good teachers and a healthy environment play a key role in a learner’s success. But for the pupils of Kasiika Umea Primary School, it is nothing but a sad tale.
By Andrew Masinde
"We have classes under a mango tree when the sun becomes too hot and transfer the pupils to our staff room for shelter when it rains. This is because the roof of their classroom was blown off by a strong wind, leaving them without where to sit,” says Shamim Nabaale, a teacher at Kasiika Umea Primary School in Gomba district.
“Controlling pupils under the tree and in the open is very hard. They want to see whatever is happening in the compound and every person on the road,” she adds.
After travelling through a dusty road with potholes, we finally arrive at this rural school at the invitation of the head teacher.
A large, clean compound is all you see. There is no signpost showing a school. When we get closer, we spot the pupils clad in blue uniforms having a lesson under a mango tree.
School shadow of itself
Started as a Muslim school in 1963 by the Uganda Muslim Education Association (UMEA), Kasiika UMEA Primary School was put under the Ministry of Education in 1984.
Today, it is one of the few schools in Gomba district, located in Kasiika village, Kabulasoke sub-county. But what is left of the school is a shadow of what it used to be.
The old, rundown buildings are full of cracks from the roof to the ground and part of the roof was blown away in a storm.
The education ministry built four new classrooms, bringing the total number to seven. However, the head-teacher, Ibrahim Mulindwa, says the classrooms are not enough for the 389 pupils.
Pupils learn against one of the classrooms that is in a terrible state. PHOTO/Andrew Masinde
“This school is very good because we have qualified teachers who know what they are supposed to do.
Unfortunately, you cannot teach a child in a poor environment and expect him to pass,” Mulindwa says, pointing at the collapsing buildings. In the background, Nabbale is trying hard to get the pupils’ attention.
“It is very hard to teach pupils under the tree because their attention is usually divided,” Nabbale says. In the bush are latrines with two rooms that are almost collapsing.
“We used to share latrines with the pupils because they were few. And the two latrines had been built by the Muslim Association,” she says.
Robert Katende, a teacher, says Kyakulabye Development Foundation, an NGO, later built more latrines for the school.
This enabled teachers, girls and boys to have different latrines. The NGO also constructed a 30,000-litre capacity water tank and distributed over 10 garbage cans, helping to improve sanitation.
Appeal for intervention
Mulindwa appeals to the Government to intervene before the walls collapse.
“As a school, we cannot do much because we are in a helpless state due to the poverty levels in the villages, yet we have to teach,” he said.
He adds that the Government should build a library and buy text books for the teachers and pupils. Mulindwa also requests that staff quarters be built near the school so that teachers can stop arriving late for work.
Gomba pupils have no roof