Under a scorching sun pupils at Murfa Kalam Boarding Primary School, Damaturu, were busy clearing shrubs sunder a giant tree This is the place where their meals are prepared and serves also as a dining area for them.
Murfa Kalam Boarding Primary School, Damaturu, located 11 kilometers from the state capital, was an initiative of Damaturu Local Government council in a bid to shore up school enrolment in the area.
The target was to attract more parents to send their children especially girls to school.
Kanem Trust’s correspondent who visited the school, however, found that despite this laudable initiative the school is far from being a conducive environment for learning especially for the young pupils some of whom are just six years old
The boys, who are between the ages of 6 to 9, were divided into small groups handling such chores as cooking, clearing the environment while their few female colleagues are exempted from such work
The schools is easily accessed by outsiders as there is no gate to secure it
“The school is without a gate for years now. Our concern is the security of these little children,” one of the staff revealed.
A small group of the pupils, who happily welcomed this reporter with weary smiles, complained that they don’t have toilets to use, therefore resorted to open defecation in the surrounding bushes.
“We only have two dilapidated toilets in the school, they both harbour snakes and other dangerous reptiles, so we can’t use any of them any more. ,” one of the pupils said.
A 10-year-old student, who proudly introduced himself as Kashim Ibrahim, said as harmattan began to set in, they were all worried about the condition they would find themselves.
“The roofs of our classes have been blown off and the windows are broken. The harmattan wind has started blowing and we don’t know how to reduce its effect.
“We faced the same problem during the rainy season, when our classes’ use to leak and the water filled everywhere. Sometimes, we were forced to return to the hostel,” he said.
Ibrahim, a labour prefect, also lamented that majority of the students are taking their lessons on the floor, while the rest usually use scraps to fabricate seat.
In the classes, when Kanem Trust visited, the teachers use the wall of the classroom to conduct lessons as they are no boards in any of them.
Similarly, there are no desk for teachers in all the classes.
It was a pathetic sight in the girls hostel. The 30 pupils were lumped in a single room together with their matron. They spread blanket on mats and ceilings sheets to sleep.
A teacher in the school told Kanem Trust that the students were in dire need of mattresses as harmattan is around
He also appealed to government to drill a borehole to put an end the problem of water shortage and ensure good hygiene in the school.
Another teacher, who spoke in confidence, said they have not been receiving enough instructional materials from the Local Government Educational Authority (LEA).
“No text books and other necessary materials for teaching. Nothing motivates teachers in this school,” he said.
The school headmaster, Mohammad Garba, said the school, which was established in 2001 has a population of 131 pupils.
When Kanem Trust asked the headmaster about the security arrangement in the school, he said, “the two guards work on a shift. One in the day and the other came at night.
We use to have JTF personnel guarding the children but, they later left because, they were not getting their allowances. We are now managing the two security guards. Each time we learnt about security breach in the state, we close the school pending when the situation improves” he said.
On the issue of the dilapidated toilets, the Headmaster admitted that the two available toilets in the school are ruined, but the female students have two in their dormitory.
He said they complained severally about the condition of the school with a hope that government would address the situation.
“We have written numbers of letters to the Local Education Authority (LEA). Many of our letters are there but they have done nothing, what can I do?” he asked.
The security guard said he was afraid that the school might be prone to the insurgent’s invasion.
“Even if we have the courage to guard these students, we don’t have any weapon to confront Boko Haram. We want government to send soldiers and policemen”
The chairman, Damaturu local government council, Alhaji Bulama Modu, while responding to question about the conditions in the school, said that they were doing everything possible to see that the welfare of the pupils was taken care of.
He said the local government was spending N700,000 monthly on the students feeding and had renovated their hostel.
“Also we would soon provide mattresses for them,” he added.