On Wednesday, a 10-year-old pupil died and 22 of her colleagues were left fighting for their lives after a Primary Three classroom block collapsed on them at a government-aided Nakwasi Primary School in Butaleja Sub- county, Butaleja District. The building crumbled shortly following a rainstorm.
The accident happened barely three days after the Office of the Prime Minister had warned that the first season rains had begun and would likely cause havoc across the country.
The Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, Mr Martin Owor, said massive floods and landslides were expected in the Elgon, Rwenzori and Kigezi sub-regions with most parts of the country expected to experience strong winds and lightning.
Despite increased funding of the education sector over the years, several government-aided schools continue to operate in dilapidated structures. In fact, in some schools, whenever it rains or it is about to rain, pupils are sent home for fear of the poor buildings collapsing on them.
In some schools, the classes have no doors and windows and whenever it rains, lessons are postponed.
This is partly the reason some schools in the different parts of the country, especially east and northern Uganda, continue to perform poorly in national exams. Unfortunately, dilapidated structures continue to put the lives of pupils at great risk.
The Ministry of Education’s budget allocation for the Financial Year 2019/20 was Shs3.3 trillion, nearly three times up from Shs1.1 trillion in 2016. In July last year, the Ministry of Education sounded its own trumpet over the achievements it had made since 2016.
Ironically, infrastructural development, which included the construction of 256 new classrooms in 45 districts across the country, was cited as some of the achievements. Around the same time, the Education ministry’s policy statement also indicated that 23 new primary schools would be built.
It is true the government made policy changes that led to the liberalisation of the education sector as well as the introduction of universal primary and secondary education in the country.
However, when we lose students in avoidable accidents like what happened in Butaleja, then it is high time government returned to the drawing board.
Therefore, to stop subjecting the precious lives of students to great risks, the government needs to ban dilapidated structure in schools and renew its resolve to build permanent classrooms, dormitories, libraries, and pit-latrines in schools.