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UPE School’s Headmaster: My 700 Pupils Share One Toilet

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order http://cerlalc.org/wp-includes/feed-atom.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Located in Acholi Quarters in Nakawa, help just behind Kireka Police Barracks famously known as RRU, pill the school is home to 719 pupils, has no perimeter fence with only two collapsing toilets and asbestos roofed dilapidated classroom blocks which were condemned ten years ago.

Under their umbrella organization, Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (Friends of OVC), a Community- Based Organization (CBO) operating in Acholi Quarters in Nakawa Division, the young professionals delivered scholastic materials and food stuffs to the school which is home to over 700 orphans and vulnerable children.

Friends of OVC was formed over a year ago with the intention of pulling resources and mobilizing more to help uplift the disadvantaged children in and around Kampala.

“We initially started off collecting household items and other discarded useful items like old clothes, shoes, mattresses and blankets which we distributed to communities in Acholi Quarters. But we have since realized that we should stop giving them fish. We should enable these communities to learn how to fish. That’s why we are taking on this school to build the capacities of these vulnerable children,” says Arinaitwe Rugyendo, the patron.

This is why Friends of OVC decided to take on the school when some of its members stumbled on it and were shocked by its poor conditions while doing a tour of the slum area.

The school, though under the UPE programme, is poorly funded, has collapsing buildings, very appalling sanitation is a health hazard to the children.

“We have 719 children but the grants we get from the ministry only cater for their scholastic materials and food. Each child gets about Shs1,600 only and this is supposed to buy them chalk, Manila papers, food, sports equipment, printed exams for a whole term,” said the headmaster Mr. Lubajja.

On a recent visit to the school by Friends of OVC top officials, the headmaster, had a long list of problems which he said can be solved if good Samaritans come to the school’s rescue.

He said the dilapidated class room blocks and staff quarters need to be uplifted as well as have the sanitation system improved.

HEADMASTER’S AGONY

The headmaster shocked the team with a revelation that many children were dropping out of school because they have nothing to eat at home.

Others come to school hungry expecting to find something to eat and once they don’t eat, they run away.

“For me, the immediate problem is food. If we can have a constant supply of food, these poor kids will stay in school. The conditions are bad but at least they can study properly once they are fed,” he adds.

As most people leave the popular ‘Fresh Cuts’ sausages in their fridges for almost two weeks and eventually throw them away, kids from this school only wish they could get a cup of porridge, even with no milk and sugar.

And on Saturday, about 50 founders of the CBO delivered bags of posho, rice, cooking oil and beans which they had mobilized to push the kids till the end of term.

The consignment was also boosted by a contribution of 100 bags of cement to start on the first phase of renovation.

“We definitely need more sympathizers to join us on this journey. This is our pilot project. We feel by improving the conditions of learning, these children will read comfortably and become better people in future? What we are doing is not enough but we believe it is something in the right direction,” said Joseph Nkurunziza, the founding Friends of OVC Executive Director.

He added that as a CBO, they felt it was not enough to live privileged lives and keep throwing away stuff that has gone bad when some people in our midst are going hungry and their kids can’t go to school.

“We have enough to go around so let us share,” he beckons.

Mr Lubajja said the school buildings were condemned 10 years ago, warning a catastrophe would happen soon if no one intervened.

“We have written hundreds of letters to the ministry seeking for help but they keep saying they have no budget. I am scared these November rains will blow this roof off and the lives of these children will not be guaranteed,” he warned.

He observed the sanitation would turn worse because the school with a population of 700 children has one toilet for both girls and boys.

Despite all these problems, the school manages to post some good grades and last year’s performance was average but promising.

With no perimeter fence, the school still has 16 dedicated teachers who managed to post 32 kids in division one last year.

107 came in division 2 and only 3 emerged in division 3.

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