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Why Kabwami Primary School is not rejoicing

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th June 2001 03:00 AM

The pupils of this 50-year-old school walk five kms to fetch water from a dirty swamp, writes Joshua Kato

The pupils of this 50-year-old school walk five kms to fetch water from a dirty swamp, writes Joshua Kato

SIX boys and girls pour water on the dusty floor of their classroom. The children are all pupils of Kabwami Primary School, deep in Kingo sub-county, Masaka district. They had earlier walked over five kilometres to fetch the water. Now and then, they use this water to reduce on the dust in the classrooms. Afterwards they lay mats woven out of banana fibres (ebirago) on which they sit. According to Mr. John Sentamu the headteacher, Kabwami Primary School is one of the biggest schools in the sub-county, with over 350 pupils. He says that the school was founded over 50 years ago. Until recently, the pupils studied in mud and wattle structures roofed with elephant grass. "It has been evolving through the years, but it only changed for the better after the introduction of Universal Primary Education, (UPE)in 1997, he said. Until 1999, the school still had mud and wattle structures. But this is all in the past. With the use of over 300 UPE iron sheets, parents of the area organised themselves and made bricks. "With the bricks, we managed to built the new structures which we roofed with the UPE iron sheets," Mr Grace Kintu, the chairman board of governors, told Education Vision. However, that was it. The classroom floors remain uncemented, exposing pupils to dust and diseases, while the windows have got no shutters at all. "Had it not been for the efforts of Mr. Gerald Sendaula, our Member of Parliament, we would not even have the little we have now." Kintu says, Sendaula helped them buy cement to build the new classrooms. The fourth and only well cemented class was built under the school facilitation grant (SPF.) It was also because of his efforts that the school got two new and more hygienic toilets recently. Before then, all pupils used one old, unhygienic and dilapidated toilet. "We do not have any desks for the children," Sentamu said. Instead, most of them sit on dirty woven banana fibre mats, while a few of them use improvised discarded timber. "For so many years, we have been calling on our parents to pay only sh1,000 so that we get the desks, but most parents are either reluctant or don't want to pay," Sentamu says. There is no library to talk about. The few books around are used round the clock by the teachers. The pupils are very bad in both spoken and written English, which makes it almost impossible for them to compete with their peers in more established schools. For sanitation and water, children have got to walk over five kms to fetch water. "This takes a lot of concentration from the pupils. We need the water everyday to reduce on the dust in the classrooms. So pupils have to carry jerrycans from a swamp five kms away," Sentamu discloses. A visit to the swamp by Education Vision showed that the school's precious source of water is itself not fit for human use. The water is covered with algae and is also exposed to all sorts of vectors. Nonetheless, the children drink it thirstly and visibly less mindful of their health. He pointed out that these are some of the reasons their school cannot effectively compete with schools in urban centres. For the 50 years it has been in existence, it has got no serious successes to talk about. "For a school with over 350 children, we are worthy a borehole or any other source of water, other wise we shall continue suffering rather preventable diseases," Sentamu said. To Sentamu and a host of other parents who Education Vision talked to, UPE has done then wonders. "We were only able to construct those blocks after UPE was introduced, we laud it as a success, with more efforts we shall develop further," he said. ends

Why Kabwami Primary School is not rejoicing

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