LAIKIPIA, Kenya, Jul 24 – Pupils from Gatirima Primary School in Laikipia West Constituency have been forced to learn under rented tents at a local church after their institution was closed indefinitely by public health officials over poor sanitation.
Class seven and eight pupils are now studying at Gatirima AIC Church where parents and the school management board found a temporary place to host them as they look for other solutions.
However, learners from class six and below will have to remain at home for now.
The parents are hiring the tents at Sh1,000 each daily and will have to do so for the next few days until schools go for the August holidays.
A week ago, public health officials from Nyahururu Sub-County recommended that the school remained closed over poor sanitation and lack of a conducive learning environment for the pupils.
A report seen by this reporter indicates that the Public Health Department cited clogged toilets that has forced the waste to spill into the playing field, water logged classrooms and poor drainage systems.
Several pupils have been taken ill due to the hazardous conditions while others had shown signs of illness connected to water borne diseases.
On Monday, members of the board had met at the school to chat the way forward since the pupils were losing while at home, while even those learning under the tents still had challenges especially when it starts raining.
The Board Chairman Simon Kiptisia said the school that hosts over 400 pupils and 13 teachers was facing a myriad of challenges that require urgent attention.
He says there was urgent need to dig trenches to enable them divert running water that was spilling into the classes.
He added that the cementing the classes, putting up a septic tank were also necessary to create a conducive learning environment.
The parents have taken issue with the local leadership, whom they said had shown little interest in supporting the public school yet there were monies and emergency funds that can be pumped in to aid in addressing some of the critical issues.
The administration block is in a deplorable state and the semi-permanent class-rooms, which have earth floors, are always muddy occasioned by a foul odour that hangs over the compound and the filthy latrines pose a major health risk to the pupils and teachers.
The school has seven blocks of classrooms, five of which were built by parents while two were donated by the local CDF office in the 2014/15 financial year.
According to the BOM Chairman, the pit latrines have started overflowing, exposing the pupils to more health risks.
His sentiments were echoed by Anne Wangari a parent and a BOM member who said some pupils have been missing classes after falling ill.
An early childhood development and education (ECDE) teacher, who sought anonymity said absenteeism has been a challenge since many pupils frequently miss classes after failing ill.
Pastor Wilson Tiong’, of the Gatirima AIC Church said the school infrastructure needs a total overhaul to ensure that pupils learn under a conducive environment.
He said parents had only sought for a temporary solution but observed that a lasting one needs to be found a soon as possible.
He said local leaders ought to join hands and address the issues raised by the public health officials and also called on well-wishers to come to their rescue.