Despite being the largest primary school in Balaka and situated right in the centre of town, over 1,200 pupils are learning under trees at Balaka Primary School.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, Balaka Primary deputy head mistress, Ivetta Kalua, said learners in six classes learn under trees because of inadequate classroom blocks.
“The school is about 75 years old since it was constructed by Indians. However, there has been no meaningful rehabilitation over the years, raising chances of an accident as the school has developed huge cracks and the roof is unstable,” Kalua said.
Kalua said the school had a ceiling which collapsed long time ago and now noise flows from one classroom to the other, turning learning into a nightmare.
Balaka School Management Committee chairperson, Francis Mbewe, said the school was built in 1940 but no meaningful infrastructural development has taken place.
Mbewe said the development has forced management to introduce a K300 contributory scheme for learners. The funds are collected every term and are earmarked for school development.
“In fact, our Member of Parliament is refusing to bail us out despite being asked several times. We have exhausted all channels, including Local Development Fund and Constituency Development Fund, to help finish a block the school committee started constructing,” said Mbewe.
Mbewe said they need about K3 million to roof, floor and plaster the school block parents constructed on self-help basis and appealed to well wishers to rescue them.
Ward Councillor Micheal Sauka said it was unfortunate that no one had shown interest in helping the school committee finish construction of the school block.
“This is a disaster in the making as negligence may lead to the loss of children’s lives,” Sauka said.
He suggested that the school should be demolished and a new one constructed in its place, arguing that it has not been rehabilitated for a long time.
The school has over 3,221pupils, 54 teachers and only 5 teachers’ houses with the teacher/pupil ratio hovering over 1 to 76 against the recommended 1 to 60.
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