By Enock Balakasi
Khoche Junior Primary School in the area of Traditional Authority Chauma in Dedza district is devoid of all the necessary amenities befitting a learning facility, a situation which is worrying communities surrounding the school and shocked the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC).
The school, a dilapidated “classroom block” thatched with roting glass and reeds, has no toilets, library, teachers houses and sanitary facilities, among other important things.
It was built in 1998 by the communities themselves and later in 2016, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology finally recognized the school, certifying it with registration number EMIS 509064.
Khoche Junior Primary School, communities own initiative to help their children attain some education, can best be described as having been neglected by government for 20 years now.
Recently, CSEC led a team of journalists from various media outlets to visit the school to appreciate the challenges learners are facing at the facility.
The nearest full primary schools to Khoche are Chilanga, Kaphuka and Kazombwe, all located almost 10 Kilometers away.
Juliyo Simon, the head teacher, had this to say about the situation at the school.
“We are indeed facing a lot of problems. Our children are learning under the trees since there is only one classroom block”.
According to Simon, there are 397 pupils at the school.
He added that there are only three teachers at the facility.
“It is difficult for three teachers to manage such a big number of learners,” noted Simon.
As if that is not enough, Simon and his two staff members walk 10 Kilometers daily from their rented houses to the school.
CSEC Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe did not hide his dismay with the situation at Khoche Junior Primary School.
“We are saddened with what we have just witnessed here considering that the children of this area are human beings as well and should have access to a good learning environment,” he said.
Kondowe promised that his organization will negotiate with donors so that learners at Khoche are given an equal opportunity to learn in a good environment.
He commended World Bank who have began supporting the community by erecting new and modern classroom blocks at the school.
Khoche Junior Primary School combines learners from Mkanda, Kasulo and Chilimata villages.
During the CSEC and media visit, pupils and parents wished things at the school improved the sooner.
“We sit on bare floor, there are no chairs at this school. I wish there were proper structures to help me realize my dream of becoming a nurse,” said Henry Mwayiwatha, a standard two pupil.
Zione Lowadi, one of the parents, chipped in, “We initiated this school after noticing that our children were walking about 10 kilometres to reach another school. But there is no much support from authorities to bring proper structures here. This is very worrisome as the children’s future is being dashed”.
Since Khoche Junior Primary School was built, one teacher manned the school till 2016 when the Ministry of Education posted three additional teachers there.
The CSEC and media tour aimed at assessing school structures focusing on a girl child project being implemented by CSEC and financed by Swedish Development Partners (SDP) who also supported the tour.