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The eyesore that is Gatundu primary schools

By Mathew Ndungu
Monday, October 7th, 2019
Gatundu North MP Wanjiku Kibe inside a classroom in Miugu Primary School in Gituamba ward. Photo/PD/MATHEW NDUNG’U

The collapse of a classroom two weeks ago at Precious Talents Top School in Dagoretti, Nairobi, that claimed the lives of seven children highlights the deteriorating state of schools across the country. 

The school is one among many that unashamedly violate basic building and safety regulations.

A survey of several schools, mainly public, in Gatundu North in Kiambu county disclosed a sorry state of affairs as a large number of them lack basic facilities such as toilets and classrooms. 

Continued poor performance of schools in the area has previously been blamed for poor learning environment.

A survey by Scholar to assess availability of mandatory infrastructure facilities in Mungai, Gatei, Buchana, Kieni, Nyamathumbi, St Francis, Miugu and Kiangunu primary schools revealed a sorry state. Devastating images of the structural status of many school blocks, collapsing toilets, broken doors, window-less classrooms and clear cracks coats a blurred picture of many run-down schools in the area.

At Mungai Primary in Gatei village, Class Seven pupils, who were studying in a dilapidated block, were vacated from their classroom soon after the news of the Nairobi  school tragedy broke out. They pupils were forced to attend class under a mango tree enduring biting cold, rain and possible scorching sun. 

The block has developed two cracks with some of the building stones already fallen to the ground. The building is said to have been constructed less than five years ago. The pupils were then transferred from the mango tree to an old, dusty and filthy store made of iron sheets. 

This is despite being awarded Sh4.6 million by the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) in the 2018/19 financial year for renovations. The pupils are currently merged with their Class Eight counterparts after our visit to the school. A few metres from Mungai is deplorable Gatei Primary School whose structures could fall anytime unless a strong foundation is urgently erected on the storey building. Cracks and old roofing sheets are crystal clear.

Miugu Primary School in Gituamba Ward is even worse. A whole block is made of iron-sheets. Most pupils are barefoot and it is clear they suffer as the classroom floor is cold. Desks are broken and the ones in better condition are shared.

At St Francis Primary School in Mang’u Ward, a whole block of old classrooms is unoccupied with no sign of renovation.

At Buchana Primary School, adjacent to the infamous Sh24 billion worth Karimenu II Dam, learning is ineffective if a good learning environment is anything to go by. Old roofs built of old iron sheets as well as collapsing toilets paint another pending disaster. 

The worrying situation is similar at Kieni Primary School where poorly-constructed toilets indicate a deserted school.

The highlighted schools are just a drop in the ocean. Almost 90 percent of Gatundu North primary schools are in pathetic state, and the local leadership is attributing it to previous leadership. 

“It’s unfortunate that due to past poor leadership, 90 per cent of our primary schools are in deplorable state and we are doing everything possible to do face-lifts and create a good learning environment,” area MP Wanjiku Kibe said last week.

As Kibe assures that her office is doing everything possible to correct mistakes she believes are inherited from her predecessors, pupils could wait longer owing to the fact that NG-CDF kitty cannot entirely build classrooms.

Kenya National Union of Teachers Thika branch secretary Joe Mungai says insufficient funding by the national government, laxity and reactiveness by the public health department and the public works are the reasons that public schools will never be at ease.

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