Katsangani Primary School urgently requires Sh.5 million to construct six classrooms, an administration block, four toilets and a kitchen.
The school in remote Katsangani village of Kurawa Sub-Location, in Tana Delta Sub-County has only two permanent classrooms, forcing learners and to quench their thirst for education under trees and mud-walled, raffia-thatched structures.
The school has only two mud-walled and raffia-thatched pit latrines shared by the 425 pupils and eight teachers. The latrines are almost caving in and the school community has to seek the services of bushes and thickets to respond to nature’s calls.
“The school has only two permanent classrooms and fifteen desks,” says Head Teacher, Kongo Tindi. “We are forced to use makeshift classrooms where learners sit on logs or on the floor to quench their thirst for education.”
There is no administration block and the head teacher and his staff have to use a mud-walled, raffia-thatched structure to keep important records and prepare their lessons.
“This is a forgotten school, literary,” Mr. Tindi tells three journalists who have visited the school after a series of posts on social media by the head teacher.
“Although the 425 pupils are children of Kenya, their right to education is being violated and this must stop,” he says.
The school, which was built in 2011 on sand dunes, hence the name, ‘Katsangani’ to serve the children of the fishing community of Katsangani village, also lacks a perimeter fence and clean drinking water, Mr. Tindi says.
Learners and pupils are also victims of jigger attacks as the classes they use are infested with jiggers and some have to stay out of school to seek treatment.
“Today, I had to grant one teacher permission to go to hospital after being attacked by jiggers in the dusty floors,” he says as he leads the scribes on a tour of the school.
This, according to the head teacher, is dangerous as the teachers and pupils are exposed to harm in an area that also has dangerous sea creatures and snakes. Disease outbreaks could also result due to open defecation.
In the temporary structured classrooms, pupils sit on logs and improvised desks made of mangrove poles, while others sit on the ground under trees to quench their thirst for education. It is pathetic.
“Two permanent classrooms were built by the National Government Constituency Development Fund in 2016, and it is here that we keep the digital learning gadgets (tablets and laptops),” he says.
Luckily for the school, the government installed solar power on the permanent building and it is here that pupils take digital literacy classes, he says.
There are five teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission, and the school is forced to flout the government’s policy of free primary education to solicit for funds from parents to pay three Parents and Teachers’ Association (PTA) teachers to bridge the deficit.
The journey to the school is itself perilous and torturous. Reporters had to abandon their vehicle, two kilometers away and wade bare-foot through three makeshift foot bridges across a creek to Katsangani village, a sleepy island whose inhabitants depend on fishing.
“The foot bridges are made of mangrove poles and villagers have to frequently repair them as saline water frequently destroy the poles,” Kongo says.
Katsangani village is prone to insecurity due to conflicts between farmers and pastoralists. It was the scene of a blood bath in 2016 when members of the predominant Giriama and the Wardei clashed, leading to the arrest and prosecution of then Tana River Senator, Ali Abdi Bule in a case that is yet to be concluded.
Kongo says many pupils are forced to stay away from school during the rainy season due to the impassable roads and leaky classrooms.
“During rainy seasons, we are forced to abandon the temporary classrooms as they are usually flooded, making it difficult for any learning to continue.
“Many pupils in the temporary structures have been forced to stay at home because their classrooms have been flooded and we cannot conduct classes under trees due to the rains,” he said.
He laments that the school has been forgotten, yet it posts impressive results in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination.
“The pupils in this school deserve better treatment from the government. They have rights, which should not be infringed upon, they are children who sit the same examinations like their counterparts in urban centres,” says an agitated Kongo who feels that if the required constructions are put up, the school performance would improve.
The school is a beneficiary of the free lunch programme, but pupils have to carry water from their homes for the food to be prepared.
“We do not have a source of clean drinking water, and we are calling on donors to sink a borehole in the school compound, since water can be found just ten feet deep here,” the head teacher says.
Ms. Selina Munga, a member of the school’s Parents Association, says locals are poor and are not able to handle the needs of the school without assistance from the government and well-wishers.
She says parents usually come together to repair thatches on the buildings and believes a lasting solution should be sought.
By Emmanuel Masha