It's a dog's life for Mbale teachers in hard-to-reach areas

It's a dog's life for Mbale teachers in hard-to-reach areas
A teacher shows the ramshackle sanitation facility

MBALE | Teachers and students in hard-to-reach areas in Mbale are facing significant challenges attributed to infrastructural deficit.

Teachers commute long distances due to a lack of staff houses while others live in deplorable facilities to attend to learners.

At Bubetsye Primary School, located in Wanale Subcounty, 15km from Mbale City, educators reside in teacher's quarters made of mud and wattle.

The three female teachers who call the shack home voiced their concerns about the substandard housing, particularly during the rainy season.

“When it rains, I have to rush out of class to improvise with means to guard against my bedding getting wet,” said Marion Muduwa Masaba, a teacher of English language.

The teachers staff quarter at the school

Zayfa Namutosi, a senior woman teacher at the school, said she would require at least Shs10,000 daily to commute to her home in Kikamba Mooni in Mbale Ccity.

It is worse with the sanitary facilities. The makeshift latrine and bath shed are made of “mabaati” (corrugated iron sheet) walls.

The facilities were built by the parents as part of their contribution to the school.

The school has 11 against 916 pupils, a ratio nearly 2 times the national average of 45 pupils per teacher.

Gidudu Christopher, headteacher of Bubetsye Primary School, shed light on the challenges faced by teachers, citing the remote location, long commutes, and substandard living conditions as deterrents for educators posted to the school.

Teachers in this school live like commandos

The situation is mirrored across the district with only 12 of 64 schools having staff quarters.

Lydia Musungu, the district education officer, highlighted the predicament she faces convincing teachers to accept appointments to hard-to-reach areas, a situation worsened by the absence of decent housing to rent for the teachers in the remote areas.

Additionally, limited classrooms and sanitary facilities also pose a challenge to the learners.

The district has 64 government primary schools against 67,000 learners.  The pupil classroom ratio stands at 1:108 against the 1:80 national average.

The district has a deficit of 617 latrine stances with 1:131 The pupil-to-latrine stance ratio against the 1:40 national standard.

With a significant drop in budget allocation, the district struggles to address the plight of teachers and students alike.

“We used to receive over 700 million but this time round we received 300 million,” said Musungu.

"There are a number of schools with three to four out of seven classrooms. This year the district has earmarked 190 out of the 300 million shillings towards construction of classrooms at Busabulo Primary school.

Development partners like Oxfam have stepped in to supplement government efforts. Local initiatives such as the Wanale hike challenge organized by the Rotary Club of Mbale also aim to mobilise funds towards construction projects, specifically teacher's quarters and additional classrooms at Bubetsye Primary School.

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