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School bursting at the seams

Infrastructure crisis as 647 KCPE candidates out of 3,500 pupils at Mwiki Primary School prepare to sit the national exam in overcrowded facilities

A notice on the only gate to Mwiki Primary School in Githurai 45 on the outskirts of Nairobi that reads: “No Room For Lazy People” indicates a serious programme inside the tiny compound.

However, with over 3,500 pupils crammed into 31 classrooms only and standing on barely a one-acre piece of land, Mwiki Primary is overcrowded.

Established in 1995, the public school located in Mwiki Ward, Kiambu county, requires 37 new classrooms; at least 40 more teachers, additional sanitary facilities and enough land to host the current population of pupils.

The school ranks among institutions with the highest population of learners. In the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam, the school presented 597 candidates but only 20 made it to national schools. The mean score was 252.16 marks.

Currently, the school has 647 candidates in crowded facilities that  make it hard for them to revise as the 2018 KCPE exam looms. Head teacher Joseph Kimani says the institution is experiencing an infrastructural crisis and a shortage of books and teachers.

Population boom

When the school started in 1995, it had a single stream with 50 pupils per class. “The population has since boomed and this has strained our facilities — classrooms, sanitary and the playground,” says Kimani. “By 2011, we had 1,418 pupils but in the last seven years, that population has doubled to 3, 500,” he told Scholar.

The school’s board of management is hoping that the Ministry of Education will fulfil a promise to expand the facilities.  Each of the 31 classrooms hosts up to 100 pupils with three to four of them sharing a desk against the Basic Education Regulations of 2015 of not more than 50 pupils for a moderate classroom. This means that learners struggle to do their work properly. Worse, the school has 72 physically- challenged pupils who need special facilities. “We have approached land- owners in the neighbourhood and some are willing to sell to us land to expand the school,” Kimani said.

He expects the KCPE mean score to rise to 260 marks this year after the school  received over 4,000 revision books from Ritepak Company recently. “The donation has improved the ratio of books to one pupil per book,” he said.

Book donation

In May, Education Principal Secretary, Belio Kipsang said the ministry was aware of the situation at the school and was committed to alleviating the problem. “We visited the school together with the then Cabinet Secretary, Dr Fred Matiang’i and agreed that starting this Financial Year 2018-2019, we will increase resources to expand facilities. We will also improve schools around Mwiki Primary so as to distribute the pupils,” Kipsang’ said. The school is still waiting for the resources. 

While receiving the book donation, Kimani said due to overcrowded facilities, academic performance has stagnated. Ritepak Limited Managing Director, Mwangi Muriuki said the company chooses schools in need of assistance and adopts them. “We try to understand their needs then evaluate our capability to assist them as part of our corporate social responsibility,” said Muriuki.The firm manufactures food-packaging materials.

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