Schools in Shambles With Just Weeks to Reopening

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Due to neglect, many school structures have been vandalized or collapsed. Some of the schools have also lost property such as furniture and solar panels to thieves. In Nakasongola, classrooms and latrines at Lwampanga Roman Catholic, Kabira –Muwunami, Busone, Moone, and Kyebisirye primary schools are submerged.
Collapsing building of Kasubi Family

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With slightly over a month to the proposed reopening of schools, most public schools are deserted and rotting away. Some of the schools are in very bad shape raising questions about where learners will study from when they return in January as proposed by the government.

Following the closure of schools in June this year to contain the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, school administrators and teachers returned to their homes leaving the institutions unattended to.  

Due to neglect, many school structures have been vandalized or collapsed. Some of the schools have also lost property such as furniture and solar panels to thieves. In Nakasongola, classrooms and latrines at Lwampanga Roman Catholic, Kabira –Muwunami, Busone, Moone, and Kyebisirye primary schools are submerged.

A report from Nakasongola District Education Department shows that some of the classroom blocks have since collapsed while others have developed cracks resulting from flooding triggered by the rising water levels. George William Kajura, the Nakasongola District Education Officer, says that as the proposed reopening of schools draws nearer, they are left guessing what will happen when learners return due to lack of funds to address the challenge at hand. 

“We have submitted the list of the affected schools to the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Office of the Prime Minister seeking support to either relocate or renovate them,” he noted. In Otuke District, our reporter has established that 10 schools lack roofs after being affected by heavy storms. 

The affected schools include Amoni primary school in Ogwete sub-county, Arom primary school, Ociro primary school, and Oluro primary school in Ogor sub-county. The others are Anepmoroto primary school, Alangi primary school, and Oboko primary school in Orum sub-county, Olilim primary school in Olilim sub-county, and Okwongo primary school and Okeremomkok primary school in Adwari sub-county. 

Quinto Odongo, the Otuke District Education Officer, says their efforts to rehabilitate the schools have been futile due to the limited development budget.  

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In Amolatar District, Aninolal primary school in Namasale sub-county is still submerged.  The school headteacher, Godfrey Ogwang that all the infrastructure in the school including staff pit latrines, offices and classrooms have been destroyed by the floods. 

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He is worried that the over 700 children who look up to this school might not resume studies on time in case the government doesn’t come to their recuse in time. 

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The situation isn’t any different in many public schools in Entebbe municipality. She was welcomed by cracked floors, walls, broken or missing windows and clogged toilets in most of the schools visited. 

At Sacred Heart Bugonga School, teachers who reside at the school noted that the flexible pipes of the school toilets were vandalized by children. At Airforce Primary School, the lightning arrestors were stolen. 

In Gulu district, vandals stole 46 lightning isolators from 18 government-aided primary schools. The most affected are Latwong Primary School in Awach Sub-County where up to seven lightning arrestors were vandalized by suspected burglars. 

Billington Olweny P’Ongwech, the Gulu district Education and Community Based Services Secretary, says that the District has started lobbying well-wishers and development partners to come to the rescue of the affected schools. 

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P’Ongwech disclosed that several schools have also been swallowed up by bushes due to lack of maintenance, adding that the District has authorized each of the 47 primary schools to use Shillings 450,000 for maintenance work. The five-secondary government-aided schools in the district will use Shillings 600,000 from the Capitation and School Development Grants for the same. 

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Cases of theft and vandalism of school property have also been reported In Nwoya District. George Butele Ayiba, the District Officer, says that several classroom and toilet door shutters of some schools like Lalar Primary School in Alero Sub-County, Goro Primary School in Lii Sub-County, and Kochgoma Primary School were stolen. 

“It is also sad to note that several computers and accessories supplied to St. Peter’s Bwobo-nam Primary School in Alero Sub-County meant to boost community ICT training were stolen,” Butele said.  Gabriel Ahimbisibwe, the Mbarara District Education Officer, says that he has compiled a report of 12 out of the 174 schools in the district that are likely to face a big challenge of reopening because they were either vandalized by hailstorms or vandals.

Ahimbisibwe says that the biggest challenge is the lack of facilitation for the education department to monitor the schools, noting that for this third quarter they have not received any money. He says they are resorting to Community development officers, Sub County Chiefs, and Parish Chiefs to monitor schools. 

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Muhammad Mugoya, the Mbale City Inspector of Schools, says unidentified people raided Namalogo Primary School robbing it of all its property including furniture and books among others. He, however, says that other schools are not doing badly although they want them to be expanded because of the huge numbers of learners who will be reporting back to school. 

In Budaka District, several schools had turned into play areas for children. At Ikiki Secondary School our reporter noticed that termites had invaded the classrooms and built anthills. Termites have destroyed the classroom furniture.

The situation is no different in some schools in Kampala. Florence Mabale, the headteacher of Kasubi Family primary school, says the school buildings and furniture are in bad shape with three classroom blocks down due to the rains.

She explains that the school resorted to renting out part of the collapsed building near the main road to timber dealers to get some money to pay off to clear their utility bills and maintain the compound.  

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At Kawempe Muslim primary school, some of the classes have been turned into stores for different items including bricks allegedly owned by one of the school neighbours. According to observations made by our reporters, while placing the bricks in the two classrooms, school desks and other furniture were damaged beyond repair.

Prosper Lwamasaka, one of the KCCA Education Supervisors says that the condition in, which their schools are is good enough to accommodate the learners when they report back in January 2022. He says that those found in bad shape will not be allowed to reopen.  

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Four schools visited by the URN reporter in Terego and Arua Districts and Arua City were bushy with furniture scattered around the school compound. Some classrooms and latrines have collapsed. Moses Etukibo, a parent in Terego district wondered what the administrators have been doing to leave the schools to collapse. 

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Many headteachers interviewed blamed the problem on the government, which halted school funding during the time of closure making it difficult for them to have people who could look after the school structures and property.

Newton Odipiyo, the headteacher of Ewava Primary School in the Arua district, says that their efforts to maintain the schools have been frustrated by restrictions on funding. He says that the government thought of sending them money a few days ago yet if the funds were left to flow they could have prevented the schools from rotting away. 

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To understand the situation on the ground, the permanent secretary requested education officers to file reports indicating the state of their schools. However, there is a growing concern since the ministry has not communicated what is next.