Water all over, no toilets as learning resumes
By Kevine Omollo, Harold Odhiambo and Julius Chepkwon | October 9th 2020
A number of schools may fail to reopen on Monday after they were destroyed by floods.
At least 26 schools in Baringo County were either damaged or completely submerged by floods and swelling lakes Baringo and Bogoria.
In parts of Nyando, Nyakach, Rachuonyo North and Nyatike sub-counties, some schools have remained submerged by the rising waters of Lake Victoria.
In some schools, the infrastructure was destroyed by hundreds of families who camped thereafter they were displaced by floods.
In Nyando alone, at least six schools are still submerged in water, which will compel education officials to seek alternatives for the learners.
The institutions affected include Kandaria, Nyamrundu, Osek and Ogenya primary schools, as well as Ombaka and Kandaria secondary schools.
In Rachuonyo North, Osodo Primary School is still yet to recover from the devastating floods caused to it a few months ago.
In West Nyakach ward, more than 15 schools, including five secondaries, may not reopen. They include Nyadina primary and secondary schools, Sango Buru, Sang’oro, Nyawalo and Obange primary schools.
Area MCA George Ogutu said some of the schools are inaccessible, with their toilets also destroyed by floods.
Previously, some of these institutions had been used as rescue centres for flood victims, before the impact of the flooding extended to the schools.
Yesterday, Ministry of Education officials told The Standard that they are identifying neighbouring schools to accommodate more than 2,000 learners.
Kisumu County Director of Education Isaac Atebe said his office was working with those of the area MPs, MCAs and the school management committees to find a quick solution.
“We have identified existing learning institutions where the schools can resume as we handle the issue. We have agreed on some of the alternative schools, and have come up with some suggestions on what needs to be enhanced in those existing schools to ensure they are fit for the students,” said Atebe.
Inadequate resources have however become the biggest hurdle in preparing the alternative schools, with Atebe saying the teams are currently mobilising for resources to ensure these adjustments are made in time before learning resumes.
He said teachers in the affected schools have been reporting to work, just like the other teachers, on the National Education Covid Response Committee recommendations.
Latrines in some of the schools are flooded, which may pose a health hazard to learners.
“In this state, and at a time the Government is focusing on sanitation amid the fight against Covid-19, we cannot have children learn in this environment,” said Justus Abong’o, a parent at Ombaka Secondary School.
Abong’o said they have identified Nyamasao and Ombaka primary schools as the alternative for Ogenya Primary School learners.
He, however, expressed fears that this intervention may affect the social distancing rules as the schools that already have excess numbers of learners will be expected to accommodate more from the affected institutions.
In Baringo, rising water levels of lakes Baringo and Bogoria submerged schools and homes, displacing over 1,000 families.
The schools affected include Ngambo, Salabani, Lake Baringo and Kiserian secondary, and Kiserian and Nosukro primary schools. Those that were slightly damaged are Sokotei primary and secondary schools and Lake Bogoria Primary School.
Data from the County Department of Education shows that 22 ECDE centres have been affected in Baringo North and Baringo South sub-counties.
County Education Executive Clement Lomaringoria said the ECDE and vocational training centres have been submerged. Most of them have been destroyed and the learning materials swept away by water.
“As per the current Covid-19 statistics the government has announced the possible re-opening of schools in October 2020 this means the learners from the affected schools will not have a place to learn,” reads a report by the county government.
Lomaringoria said they are in the process of finding an alternative to accommodate the learners to enable them continue with learning.
James Maramba, Salabani Secondary School security guard, said there is no sign the water levels will drop soon.
“We wonder how classes will resume. The water levels keep rising each day,” he said.
The school has over 140 students. Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Baringo branch executive secretary Christopher Kimosop said the schools are not ready to accommodate learners.
“We have not ascertained the status of our schools some of which are in bad shape. In some regions, classes will resume but other learners might have to wait longer,” he said.
Ilchamus MCA Joseph Leparsalach said though there are plans to have learners relocated to other schools, there is a need to speed up construction of the new classrooms.
Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis urged the national government to address the issue of submerged schools, saying the county administration does not have the capacity to do so.
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