Parents close only Govt School over old structures

Kyaburere Primary School head teacher Banizi Byarugaba Ngoboka (left) inspects one of the classroom blocks with one of the parents last Friday. PHOTO/RONALD KABANZA 

What you need to know:

The school was built by the Catholic Church in 1980, together with the community, to provide education to residents.

Parents in Kyaburere Parish, Bugangari Sub-county in Rukungiri District have resolved to close their only government-aided primary school as a preventive measure given that the school is in a dilapidated state, posing a huge risk of collapsing on the learners.

There are five classrooms, all with cracked windows, doors, walls, and leaking roofs. The school was built by the Catholic Church in 1980, together with the community, to provide education to residents. As of 2022, the school had an enrollment of 550 pupils with eight teachers on government payroll.

Ms Fausta Kobusingye, the Kibiziro Village chairperson, where the school is located, accused the government of neglecting their school and yet they pay taxes like other Ugandans and deserve services such as education.

“We held a meeting with all parents and resolved to close the school with immediate effect. On Monday, I visited the school but I found two pupils present. Some were seated in the office and some were loitering in the school compound,” Ms Kobusingye told Daily Monitor last week on Friday.

The chairperson of the School Management Committee, Mr Ambrose Tumuhaise, said before the official reopening of the schools across the country for the first term, they had sought government intervention but did not get any positive response.

“We held a meeting with the school head teacher on the eve of the official reopening of schools and we resolved to close it and send our children to other schools. We thought the lives of our children were at a great risk. We closed the school until the government intervenes,” he said.

Mr Vicente Kato, a parent and former chairperson of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), said it was embarrassing that the only primary school in the parish to be in a dilapidated state at the watch of leaders.

“This is the only government-aided school in the parish but I wonder why the government has failed to support us. We have waited enough and we shall not allow our children to study from here again,” he said.

The Catechist at Kyabureere Catholic Church, Ms Deudanta Kobusheshe, said the state of the school is worrying and parents cannot allow their pupils to study from such structures.

“The school will only open if a lasting solution is put in place, otherwise our children are in danger,” she said.

However, the Bugangari Sub-county chairperson, Mr Juston Byamukama, expressed dismay that the alternative schools are far away. He appealed to the parents to calm down as government plans to remedy the situation.

“It is true the school is in a sorry state but it doesn’t mean that it should be closed,” he said.

The school head teacher, Mr Banizi Byarugaba Ngoboka, said: “We opened on Monday, February 6, 2023 but we only received two pupils out of the 550 that we had last term. On the following day, none of the learners returned. Since Tuesday February 7, 2023, no learner has ever returned,” he said.

He added: “The teachers kept coming but on realising that there were no learners, they also stayed home. I think parents have abandoned the school and so we are waiting for the district leadership to chart the way forward.”

Mr Steven Nsubuga Bewayo, the Resident District Commissioner, said: “The parents and administrators should follow up on the matter and find a lasting solution instead of closing the school. As a government, we condemn such acts.”

The district education officer, Mr Jackson Turyahumura, said the district has plans to construct two classroom blocks at the school as they wait for the council to secure more funds.

Other schools

Ms Annet Musasizi, the head teacher of Bishop’s Kasheeshe Primary School in Kasheeshe Parish, Buyanja Sub-county, said when it rains, they are forced to send their children home in fear of their lives because of the poor state of school structures.

Ms Musasizi said the classrooms are leaking and that they have resorted to taking shelter in the church whenever it rains, which also affects the learners’ performance.

The school has an enrolment of 205 pupils with seven teachers on government payroll.

At Kishonga Primary School in Rubanga Parish, Buyanja Sub-county, the school has a population of more than 200 pupils and nine teachers on government payroll but is operating in structures with leaking roofs, dusty floors and cracked classrooms walls.

The school head teacher, Mr Erick Muramuzi, said it is not different from other mentioned schools though the district authorities are in the know.

“We are operating at a great risk because classrooms are falling down anytime. When it rains, we are forced to congest the learners in one better classroom for safety,” he said.