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In Rakai, Learners Sit on Bricks and Car Tyres as Schools Battle Shortage of Desks

Currently, pupils in these schools improvise with papyrus mats, timber, car tyres, and bricks while others sit on bare ground. According to Moses Baryamutuha, the headmaster of Kyabigondo Primary School, Ddwaniro, they do not have a single desk for learners in the nursery section and lower Primary sections.
Jennipher Nakyanzi, the Class teacher of Baby and Middle class, with her children in a class without desks. There are also few mats to sit on.

Audio 1

A number of government Aided Schools across sub-counties in Rakai District do not have desks and classrooms as they reopen their doors to learners after the two-year COVID-19 break.

Affected schools include Kyabigondo Primary School in Ddwaniro sub-county, St. Lucia-Lwanga Primary School in Kacheera sub-county, Kirangira Primary School and St. Jude-Nalubaale Primary School in Kagamba sub-county, and Kisomole, Lwenkakala and Kibinda Primary Schools, all in Byakabanda sub-county.  

Currently, pupils in these schools improvise with papyrus mats, timber, car tyres, and bricks while others sit on bare ground. According to Moses Baryamutuha, the headmaster of Kyabigondo Primary School, Ddwaniro, they do not have a single desk for learners in the nursery section and lower Primary sections.  

He says that before the COVID-19 break, the school had a total of 1,012 pupils with less than 50 desks. Primary One class had three desks for 195 children and Primary two had four desks for 193 children. Still, Primary four had nine desks for 165 children and Primary five had 12 desks for 117 children. He fears that inadequate facilities may affect the learners’ hygiene and academic performance in the new term. 

Jennipher Nakyanzi, the baby and Middle-class teacher says it’s difficult to control learners in this bracket from dirtying themselves because the floor is not cemented. Due to lack of desks, Nakyanzi says the children’s books are always messed up adding that sometimes, the children fall asleep in class and lay on bare ground. 

In Kayonza Primary School, 725 learners were enrolled in 2019. Of these 203 were in Primary one, 122 in Primary two, 103 in Primary three and 115 in Primary four. The others included 66 learners in Primary five, 60 in primary six and 56 in Primary seven.  But for all these, the school has 38 desks, according to the school head teacher Amon Mugisha. 

Currently, one desk accommodates six pupils as opposed to the three that it is designed for. Yet, with the need for social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19, such a desk would be used by one or two learners. The school also has only two chairs and tables in its staffroom, which is not enough for the 17 teachers it employs.

Justus Gumisiriza, the P7 class teacher, says that they have 10 desks for the class and each accommodates five or six pupils. When the desks are occupied, the unlucky candidates sit on the floor, on their mats or sweaters. According to Gumisiriza, the crisis has created a negative perception towards the UPE schools since the learners compare themselves with some private schools that are doing quite well. 

In Lwenkakala, Kisomole and Kibinda Primary School in Byakabanda, the majority of pupils sit on the ground. However, St. Lucia-Lwanga Primary School in Kacheera plus Kirangira and St. Jude-Nalubaale primary schools in Kagamba, have a double crisis; even without desks, the available buildings are on the verge of collapsing. 

Deo Musuuza, the Headmaster of St. Lucia-Lwanga Primary School explains that before the COVID break, they had written several proposals to the District Education Department and the Ministry of Education and Sports to intervene, in vain. 

However, Rakai District Education Officer John Baptist Kimbowa says that they do not have enough funds to solve the problems as highlighted in the schools. He says that they get 200 million Shillings as a school Facilitation Grant which cannot enable them to build enough classrooms, buy desks, and construct pit latrines or maintain the 122 schools in the district. 

//Cue in; “Very true… 

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