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Pathetic state of a Urim Primary school with only three classrooms

By Olivia Odhiambo | May 31st 2021

A shackled structure erected using an old iron sheet where pupils in grade three learn at Urim primary school in Alego Usonga sub-county in Siaya county.[Olivia Odhiambo]

A school in Alego Usonga is in a pathetic state with pupils from different classes sharing classrooms and teachers and pupils using the same pit latrines.

So pathetic is the status of Urim Primary that only three classroom buildings are shared amongst all the classes.

In every classroom, there are two classes with two sets of learners being taught by different teachers.

The two sets of classes in one room are partitioned by iron sheets.

Learners can barely hear what the teachers are saying due to the two high voices and echoes in one room.

This is the same situation in the next two classroom buildings.

A few meters away from the classrooms is another classroom built only from rods and iron sheets roof to shield and protect the grade three learners from the sun and the rain.

According to school headteacher Pamela Otondo, the school was started 30 years ago and with the poor infrastructure, parents moved their children to nearby schools, living the school with a little population mostly orphans living with their grandmother's or poor guardians.

"This school is in dire condition. It is inhabitable and is of great danger to the learners. We have the risk of jigger infestation because of the incomplete classrooms with dusty floors," she said.

Otondo said that due to few classrooms they have been forced to erect a shackled structure using a very old iron sheet to use as a classroom for grade three learners.

"Initially we used it for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) learners who were few in numbers but we later realised that being young children the harsh weather was dangerous to them, so we moved them in one of the classrooms and brought out the other learners. There is no gate in this school and people intrude from all corners during school hours," she noted.

The headteacher said that the school has only five classrooms which they have demarcated with iron sheets to enable all the learners get a space for learning.

"My main worry is how two teachers give instructions in one room. Putting a child's concentration in the mind is not a walk in the park. Toilets and some classes do not have doors. You can imagine the lack of privacy in the small rooms especially for the girls," she added.

Ms Otondo said that there is need for electrification and gadgets like bulbs, cables and sockets for them to meet the CBC standard of Education (ICT).

One of the five incomplete classrooms of Urim primary school in Alego Usonga Siaya county.[Olivia Odhiambo]

She said they have raised concerns with the area MP Sam Atandi's office and the Ministry of Education officials who have promised to assist although they have not specified the exact time.

In the recently released Kenya Certificate of Primary Examinations (KCPE) the top candidate scored 284 out 500.

"This was a great result for us, considering the poor state of the school. This was an improvement and a better result from previous ones. Parents and guardians have tried, when we called them to assist they raised funds and we managed to purchase desks and lockers for the learners but they need help from well-wishers as a majority of them are poor," she added.

The headteacher who referred to the school as a marginalised one said they have about 130 learners at the moment.

Alego Usonga MP Sam Atandi confirmed that he was aware of the status of the school.

MP Atandi however noted that he had only been in office for three years and it was not possible to handle the infrastructure of all the schools in Alego Usonga.

"This is not the only school in the County that is pathetic. Why don't you highlight the other pathetic schools in the county alongside this one. I have only been in office for three years and it is not possible to change all schools at once," he responded when contacted.

County Director of Education Nelson Sifuna said that his team had visited the school and were working on improving the infrastructure.

He said the school infrastructure is poor but the National Government Constituency Development Fund funded it last year for construction of two classrooms forwarded to Ministry of Education headquarters for infrastructure request but the fund has not been received.

Sifuna said the school has 120 pupils, adequate teaching staff and its registration certificate was yet to be validated.

He said the education office had given the school pupils face masks and appealed to the county government and woman rep to support it.

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