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Kenyan school where arts, language classes are not taught

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Jeckonia Otieno | February 10th 2016
The structure that will host the Form One class at Chakama Primary School. PHOTO: JECKONIA OTIENO.

KILIFI: One school, three classrooms, four classes, four teachers and 132 students. This sums up the story of Chakama Secondary School in Kilifi County.

The school, located 70 kilometres from Malindi town, was started in 2012 and had its first form four candidates last year. Not only are facilities at the school wanting, but it is also facing a teacher shortage.

Deputy Principal Samuel Deche says the Teachers Service Commission has only given them four teachers and to meet the shortfall, the school's board of governors chose to hire six additional teachers. They however, did not report to work come January due to pay issues.

"Last year we had a total of 25 students sitting for KCSE, this year we have 17 students. We now have to start preparing them even as we work with the other students and we are only four of us," he says.

The school does not have humanities or languages teacher since all others teach only science-based subjects except one teacher who handles Geography.

The closest the school has come to having a languages teacher is when they had university student on teaching practice who taught Swahili.

When we toured the school, students were sitting for their term opener exams and Deche expressed his apprehension about the process.

"Even this poses a challenge for us because who will mark the subjects that do not have teachers? And as you can see, even the storekeeper has been roped in to invigilate exams because of the teacher shortage," he points out.

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Deche says his students are disadvantaged because while others are taught all recommended subjects, that is not happening at the school yet the final examinations will not be set based on subjects that the students did.

"They will be expected to compete with other students all over the country despite the glaring inequality they are facing at the moment," he says.

His sentiments are echoed by the student's leader, Meshack Masha, who notes that education being a national government function, it is essential that the teachers' shortage is addressed.

"I ask the national government to consider that we are also Kenyans with rights to quality education. We should be equipped to access education like our fellow students all over the country," he says.

In preparation for the Form One intake, the school has constructed a temporary structure from iron sheets to act as a classroom. Essentially, the school has four classrooms but one of these has been partitioned into a staff room and principal's office. This means that the school has no requisite facilities such as a science lab or a library which are key components of a school.

"Without these key facilities, we are left to teach theory and expect that these learners will sit for their exams and pass – just like that," says Deche.

The school expects that their plea will reach the necessary ears so that this dire situation can be rectified and the lives of over hundred learners can be put on track.

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