Parents call for urgent action to address classroom deficit in Sironko

Parents call for urgent action to address classroom deficit in Sironko
A typical classroom block in Sironko district

Parents in the eastern district of Sironko are raising their voices in a plea for additional educational facilities to tackle the acute shortage of classrooms plaguing the area.

With a deficit of 300 classrooms, schools are grappling with overcrowding and resorting to makeshift structures, compromising the quality of education and impacting student performance adversely.

The community is urging authorities to prioritize the provision of more classrooms to alleviate these challenges and enhance the overall quality of education in the district.

One such school deeply affected by the classroom shortage is Bunagami Primary School, located in Legenya Subcounty, Budadiri East County.

A teacher goes about his business in a crowded mud and wattle classroom

The school has only four permanent classrooms, a significant shortfall from the standard minimum of seven.

To accommodate the overflow of students, improvised structures made of dilapidated mud and wattle have been erected with support from parents.

The Chief Administrative Officer, Nelson Kirenda, attributes this crisis to limited funding from the central government, emphasizing the necessity of makeshift solutions to avert a worse scenario of classes being conducted in open spaces.

The challenging topography in exacerbates the plight of teachers who endure difficult daily commutes. Julius Musabire, one such teacher, embarks on a 15-km journey from Budadiri Town Council daily, while Nangai James faces a 20-km trek from the neighboring Bulambuli district.

The absence of staff housing compounds their difficulties.

"If the school had staff houses, I could stay during rainy days," Musabire said, highlighting the necessity of on-site accommodation.

The CAO acknowledges the pressing need to address the classroom deficit.

However, meager funding remains a formidable obstacle.

With only Shs500 million allocated to the education sector for the entire district in the 2023/24 financial year, the task of constructing classrooms seems insurmountable.

at least Shs300 million has been earmarked for the construction of a mere three classrooms at Bukiyi Primary School, according to Kirenda.

Additionally, Shs200 million has been allocated for the renovation of classrooms at Nabweya and Bukiya Primary Schools.

“As you can see those are only three schools out of the over 100 schools in the district,” Kirenda said.

However, these efforts represent a drop in the ocean, meaning, it would take 33 years to fill the current deficit at the current rate of progress.

In response to the community's concerns, Sironko Woman Member of Parliament, Florence Nambozo Mayoga attributes the district's poor performance in the recent Primary Leaving Examinations to these challenges, emphasizing the urgent need for increased resources, including allowances for teachers in hard-to-reach areas.

The district was 15th from the bottom of 176 districts with a 27.2 average aggregate.

The performance of Bunagami Primary School in the recent exams reflects a mixed picture, with notable achievements but also significant setbacks.

While the best-performing students attained Division Two and Three grades, eight out of 29 pupils failed the exams, underscoring the urgency of addressing the infrastructure challenges to ensure quality education for all students.

As parents, educators, and policymakers come together to address the pressing issue of classroom deficits, the hope is for swift action and increased investment to provide students in Sironko District with the quality education they deserve.

Such needs ought to be captured in government priorities.

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