Next to the shanty area of Majengo in Isinya town, Kajiado county, is a relatively new primary school.
Isinya Township Primary School, started in 2014 is expected to sit the first Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam next year. But the public primary school has an ominous secret despite the daily number of parents seeking admission for their little ones.
Three latrines are all it has to fulfill the natural needs of 535 pupils and nine teachers for the daily eight school-hours. It is a feat impossible to accomplish so the school has had to find a somewhat gross compromise. The latrines are reserved for the 261 girls and teachers.
“The lines are long and winding and it is really heartbreaking when you see the suffering the little ones have to endure as they wait their turn,” says head teacher Geoffrey Munga.
It is a mad dash for toilets once the break bell goes because more often than not, the return-to-class one rolls before the line is halfway done.
“It’s either the pupils spend the day lining up or attend classes. So lessons have to be interrupted time to time as those that missed out on the break time moment keep asking for permission to visit the latrine,” says Munga.
And while the girls do the ‘pressed dance’ on the queues, the boys line up in the open for the leak. And the school neighbours are not amused. They have even sued the institution for allowing children to pee in the nearby bushes.
“One of our neighbours fenced off his piece of land to secure it from use as a toilet of contracting water-borne diseases. The overflowing shared pit latrine is also a disaster-in-waiting,” he said.
Besides sanitation, the school lacks a playground and suffers from chronic congestion. Different classes have to share classrooms with up to five pupils forced to sit on a single desk.
“We appeal to the county government and other concerned stakeholder to come to our aid and if possible to relocate the school to another area. Despite its poor state, parents throng here daily seeking admission but we cannot enroll them because we lack capacity,” said Munga.
Most children in the institution are from humble backgrounds as their parents, who work in the neighbouring flower firms, cannot afford private schools while other public primary schools are full to capacity.
The school board chairman Eric Nandwa says:
“We call upon the ministry of Education to intervene in this situation as pupils’ learning environment is worsening day after day. The stench is becoming unbearable.”
He adds that the institution has written several letters to the county government with no response.