In 2014 African Initiative and CASEC agreed to work with Karatu, Mbulu and Kilolo district councils to improve the quality of education in 45 rural based schools. The schools included 15 secondary and 30 primary schools. The programme included the establishment of school health clubs, teacher’s training and support to Quality Assurance Department at zonal and district level. The work went well and made remarkable achievements. However one of the main challenges was the school infrastructures.In most old schools the classrooms, toilets and teacher’s houses were in a bad state.
School buildings at Laja Primary School
Laja Primary School was built by the Laja community. However whilst the equal rights to quality education project was in progress it was evident that one block with two classrooms and a staff room was almost collapsing. One classroom the walls had fallen, one side of the building the old rusty roof was almost falling down. The windows had no frames as well as tops, and there were no cement floors.
The floor was just dust, and one could not differentiate the doors and windows. Therefore pupils also used the windows as doors. The fourth class in this block had collapsed while the other blocks which had three classrooms, which was seen as the best block, the walls had cracks big enough to allow snakes to go through. Therefore at Laja it was normal for children when cleaning the classes to find snakes hiding in the class rooms.
Due to this unsatisfying and unpleasant learning and teaching environments,the enrollment of students was a challenge.Also the attendance of students was not regular due to the conditions of classrooms,before the project had begun there were only 171 students enrolled and their regular attendance was not the same due to various environmental factors that the school buildings could not meet.Teachers were also not happy with the schools conditions hence didn’t give there best and students performance was at its lowest.
However this situation was turned around in 2016 when the Michael Matthews Foundation (MMF) contacted CASEC to find out if the two organizations could work together in rehabilitating schools.CASEC agreed, to work with Michael Matthews’s Foundation; four schools under CASEC education programme were then identified. The schools included Laja (Karatu District), Qaloda (Mbulu District), Idete (Kilolo District) and Kimnyaki secondary school (Arusha District). The project included five partners inclusive of the Michael Matthews Foundation (funder), CASEC (implementing and coordination), District council (Quality Control), community (mobilization of local materials), and school (provision of accommodation and storage for materials).
MMF provided funds for the project; the local community provided non-industrial materials like water, sand and stones as well as laborers. The District council provided technical support that ensured the rehabilitation work done as per the Government standards. The district council appointed an engineer who worked closely with the technician and local masonries. The council also provided 200 corrugated iron sheets which were used to roof three classrooms and a staff room. Moreover, the district council provided a truck (lorry) that was used to transport building materials to the site. While CASEC was oversaw the overall management of the project.
The agreed workload included the construction of three classrooms and one office, major rehabilitation of three classrooms, construction of girl’s toilet with eight holes and a changing room. The rehabilitation works included the boy’s toilet. The major four teacher’s houses and construction of two toilets and bathrooms for teachers, also included were other three teacher houses.
A major rehabilitation work was done in one of the blocks which consisted three classrooms. Some of the accomplished work include plastering of walls inside and outside construction of floor, new lentil, and floor, roofing, fixing of ceiling, and painting. It also included installation of new doors and windows. Rehabilitation work was done in one of the block which consisted three classrooms and a staff room. Some of the accomplished work include plastering of walls inside and outside construction of floor, new lentil, and floor, roofing, fixing of ceiling, and painting. It also included installation of new doors and windows.
The expectation of the project was improved learning through a much better learning environment that would ascertain improved teaching condition and understanding among the students and teachers. It was projected that for the next 15 years on a yearly basis at least 300 students will benefit from this project, inclusive a number of 10 teachers to benefit directly from the project. The expected outcome of the project would be improved attendance of pupils in school due to improved condition of school buildings, increased number of children enrolled as well as number of teaching staff. All this adding up to an improved school environment which will motivate teachers to work hard leading to a friendly learning and teaching environment for both teachers and pupils.
The impact of the work
CASEC’s good and proper management of the project led also to the repair and construction of more buildings in the school which were initially not included in the original plan and budget. Additional work included construction of the new teachers’ toilet and bathroom and the rehabilitation of two teachers’ houses, repair and painting of two additional teachers’ houses, and installation of water harvesting facility (gutter) in the main school building. It was agreed that the exercise should take three months; however this work was done in two and half months. This was done due to good collaboration and coordination among partners. At the end of the exercise the old Laja primary school was out of the map, what exists now is the new Laja primary school.
Both the community and the district council have appreciated a lot the rehabilitation support given by MMF and CASEC to the school. The district officials were impressed by the quality of the work given the short period of the project. Both pupils and teachers are happy with their school as quoted during one of the monitoring visits “The rehabilitation work is very important in our school because it will increase the pupil’s attendance; because we believe truancy in our school was largely contributed by poor school infrastructures especially classrooms and toilets. The infrastructures were so bad, and certainly children were not attracted to be at school” This was said by the school head teacher Mr. Bura. He appreciated the work done by MMF to improve the school environments.
The exercise promoted the working relationship among the partners involved; it has also provided good learning and teaching environment for key beneficiaries. It has also built trust and confidence among partners. At the time of the rehabilitation the school had only five teachers hence making the unavailability of adequate teacher’s houses has been a major problem. This is just a start of the project; in action right now is the construction/rehabilitation of Qaloda primary school in Mbulu district. Next in pipeline is Idete primary school all the way in Kilolo district in Iringa region. All it takes is the audacity to start, the support of people with similar mindset and a desire to see a revolved and changed education and learning environment.
Due to this amazing work done at Laja,now the school has increased its enrollment rate by almost 20% from 171 students before inception of project to 205 students after inception of project.The school has also reported regular attendance of students hence improved students performance due to improved learning environment.
Its definitely not a one man’s work hence the need for a growing network of partners with a desire to work and see to it that development is seen, lets join more hands in building a better tomorrow by investing in the place were great leaders of tomorrow are birthed “schools”.
Together we can make wonders.