School classrooms demolished over health concerns

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Dilapidated classrooms were demolished in Tilak primary school after a notice was given by the Public Health department
Dilapidated classrooms were demolished in Tilak primary school after a notice was given by the Public Health department

Eleven mud-walled classrooms in Tilak primary school, West Pokot County, have been demolished, due to their poor condition and health risk posed. This comes after a statutory notice was given by the Public Health department to close the school. The notice revealed that the move was because of structural defects, poor water drainage, poor lighting, no ventilation, and poor toilets.

More than 600 pupils have been affected by the demolition and the number of absentees has increased as pupils are trying to avoid the harsh conditions in the school during the rainy season, coupled with the fact that they may study under trees.

The school which is located in Tilak sub-location, Kapenguria was given 24 hours to demolish the classrooms due to the aforementioned poor conditions. The school has a population 1,247 pupils and 160 nursery school pupils and is situated four kilometers from Kapenguria town on your way to Kapkoris hills.

Tilak Primary which was started in 1986 has 27 streams with 611 boys and 638 girls, thus it doesn’t have enough structures to accommodate them all. Pupils used to learn in muddy classes that had holes and crannies, and they were a hiding place for snakes that terrified both pupils and teachers and this inconvenienced them.

At the moment many pupils are forced to study under trees and most are affected by the chilly weather conditions.

Pupils in Tilak learning under a tree, a situation that has inconvenienced the learning process in the school
Pupils in Tilak learning under a tree, a situation that has inconvenienced the learning process in the school

Speaking to press in the school, Tilak primary school headteacher Mr. Vincent Onege said the school is over populated and faces many challenges including lack of classrooms. “We received a notice on Monday last week to have the school closed and after consulting with other stakeholders and parents we decided to follow the order of the public health department,” he said.

Mr. Onege said because of the situation, many pupils are forced to drop out of school and others are about to transfer to other schools because of an increase in the number of pupils currently at the school.

The headteacher pointed out that majority of the pupils come from Eastleigh slums in Makutano, Kapenguria town and the large catchment area of Kapkoris. “The situation is worse because the school has no trees and the compound is small, and this has turned away hundreds of pupils who intend to study here,” he said.

Mr. Onege called on well-wishers to help them urging the county government to move in and use the disaster preparedness money to support the school.

Parents led by Emanuel Rotich said their children are suffering, and they promised to hold demonstrations to get assistance from area leaders.

“We want the area MP to intervene, the area MCA should use the Kshs 28 million set aside and CDF money to reconstruct the school. We don’t know where and how our children are going to conduct their studies, yet other children in other schools are busy learning,” said Rotich.

A standard eight pupil, Millicent Marwo, said the situation has affected learning in the school and asked the national and county government to help renovate the school. Mr. Obadiah Koreliach, a teacher at the school and whom one of his classrooms was affected, cited that said pupils in the school learn in poor conditions. “The situation is worrying,” he said.