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Where college students share tuition block with primary learners

By Phares Mutembei | July 12th 2021
Chuka University VC Prof Erastus Njoka addressing Kenya Medical Training College students outside the building they occupy inside the university. The university council allowed, in 2015, KMTC to occupy the building which belongs to Ndagani Primary School, as the construction of KMTC campus at Chuka Level Five Hospital continues. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

At Ndagani in Tharaka Nithi County, college students and young pupils have for a month learnt to co-exist in a tuition block they share.

The college students, most in their teens and early 20s, have been sharing a compound with a baby class and two other classes in the Early Childhood Development Education centre.

In a rare scenario, the primary school pupils and the students intermingle as they move around their classrooms, stairs and along the corridors at the tuition block near Chuka University.

The college's lecturers also have offices and lecture halls in the single tuition building, albeit on the upper level.

Older pupils such as Class Seven and Eight take the advantage of the proximity to engage the older students for advice.

When the bell rings, the pupils make their usual dash to the classrooms, and the college students have learned to give way when that happens.

Friendships have also been struck, and it is not uncommon to see a group of pupils in animated chatter with their older counterparts.

But to maintain respect and seniority, the pupils have been allocated separate toilets and they dare not venture into ones meant for the college.

But many things could go wrong in this arrangement, though luckily, it is yet to happen.

It is a situation brought about by the delayed construction of the Kenya Medical Training College complex at Chuka Level Five Hospital, which has forced its students to share a building with pupils at Ndagani Primary School.

While the college students occupy the upper floors of the building, the pupils have been moved into a section of the first and ground floors.

The building belongs to the primary school but KMTC has occupied it as it awaits completion of its campus.

The primary school was moved on May 10 from its former location, in a land swap with Chuka University which is using the land to construct a library.

A teacher from the primary section told The Standard: “The pupils and teachers cannot wait to have the entire building to themselves. The university built this complex as a model primary school.”

The KMTC campus in Tharaka Nithi County was approved six years ago but Chuka University accommodated the first batch of its students in a compound that belonged to Ndagani Primary School, within the university compound.

Vice Chancellor Prof Erastus Njoka said the council decided to accommodate the KMTC in September 2015 because no other venue could be found.

“We talked with the university council and agreed to give the building to KMTC since 2015 because they had nowhere to go. Because there is a construction of a library where the primary school was, we have decided they share (the KMTC complex),” said Prof Njoka.

However, Njoka called for a speedy construction of the KMTC college at Chuka Hospital, saying it had taken long.

He asked the county government to ensure that the KMTC college campus at the Chuka hospital on the fringes of Chuka town was completed quickly.

“It has been six years and the project is not complete. We are asking the government to work faster and finish the project, after which we will assess it before releasing the students,” said Njoka.

He assured parents and other stakeholders that the university, which offers nursing and other medical courses, will continue to support the KMTC.

“We have first class laboratories and other facilities which KMTC students can make use of, as they further their education,” he said.

Ndagani Primary School Headteacher Joseph Keah said sharing the building with KMTC had given the pupils an ideal place to learn.

“We thank the university for giving the pupils a conducive environment to learn, and the local community is very happy,” said Keah.

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