In Kamakwa ward, Nyeri Town Constituency, located on the hill overlooking several homesteads is Kamuyu Primary School.
With only one stream per class and a population of 136 pupils, headteacher Joseph Kibet strides across the compound, keeping a keen eye on the lower primary pupils who run past him to their classes after lunch break.
Four new classrooms with bright blue iron sheets sit in contrast to the rest of the school as they are sandwiched between classes built in 1960.
“The school is very old, it was built before independence, and over the years the buildings have fallen into disrepair. Many classrooms had worn out roofs and pothole riddled floors,” says Mr Kibet.
The situation at Kamuyu Primary School is mirrored in other decades old learning institutions, which were started in colonial times.
The new classrooms are the outcome of a project by the Nyeri Town Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which has embarked on renovating the schools built in the colonial era.
The doors to the classrooms, most of which had been built over 50 years ago had fallen off the hinges, while windows also made of wood had warped and cracked in decay.
In June and July when temperatures usually drop to as low as 13 degrees celsius in some parts of Nyeri, the pupils at Kamuyu had to dress for the extreme weather, sheltered only by the stone walls of the classrooms.
“We had many children getting sick with colds and respiratory diseases because they were exposed to the cold for hours sitting in a classroom with no doors or windows, but now things have improved,” says Kibet.
He says the population of pupils has decreased, with most parents opting to send their children to nearby, better built schools such as Tetu Boys Primary School.
“Parents choose to withdraw their children due to various reasons, including the state of the school, but we hope now that the school has benefited from the new infrastructure enrollment will improve,” he says.
With the new classrooms which have glass-pane windows, painted walls and cement floors, the school seems to be getting a new lease on life.
Majority of schools in Nyeri Town Constituency were built in the colonial era and at independence. Kamuyu Primary School is one of 43 public schools in the constituency benefiting from the CDF project.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu says the primary intention in the renovation is to ensure all the schools in the constituency meet certain basic standards in terms of institutional capacity and state of facilities.
“We had a situation where some students were studying in classrooms without window panes while others were in storey buildings in the same constituency. This did not seem fair as all these schools are public institutions,” says Ngunjiri.
In Ithenguri Primary School, pupils are now learning in five renovated classrooms. The new roofs have even gutters to harvest rain water for use within the school.
The school, which was started in 1939, has been in need of a facelift for several years, according to deputy head teacher Samuel Mugenya.
“We needed the renovations to keep the 140 pupils comfortable and the new classrooms have motivated the teachers and students,” he says.
Marua Primary School that was built in the 1970s now boasts of nine newly renovated classrooms.
Head teacher Eustas Mwai says the school’s new look has motivated the 166 pupils and boosted their confidence.
In Mathari Ward, Nyarugumi and Kingongo primary schools now each has four new classrooms. In Rware Ward, renovations on several classrooms are ongoing in DEB and Githwariga primary schools.
Tetu Boys Primary School has recorded an influx of students, stretching the schools’ infrastructure, after the renovation of five of its classrooms. which was also built in the 1955.
The school built in 1955 has a population of 685 students.
“Some of the classrooms had welded wire mesh for windows and leaking roofs,” says headteacher Stephen Njoroge.
According to the CDF records, Nyeri Town has allocated and spent Sh49.6 million in the 2017/18 financial year towards education and expects to carry out renovations in 80 per cent of all the public schools in the constituency.
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