As I am driven through the gate of Buganda Road Primary School (BRPS), I am met with a stench of fermenting beans emanating from the nearby school canteen, which has changed little from the last time I used it in 1986. My mind raced to the once famous bean pies that my children have failed to comprehend each time I explain the concept.
The school is largely familiar and apart from some new structures that were erected reducing on the playing space, not much has changed.
This visit was a result of a meeting I had just had with Odaga Charles, Jackie Asiimwe, Annie Mungoma and Amos Kasule all OBs and OGs of this great school originally known as Norman Godinho Primary School. The previous day, Jackie has met the Head Teacher and identified some of the needs the school has. Having listed them, we decided to prioritise the issue of hygiene thereby leading to this fact finding mission to assess the extent to which it is a problem.
A walk through the compound made me feel 30 years younger and hearing the vibes from my colleagues I could feel some sense of joy but also sadness. In life it is a pity when you regress while growing up. We are set up to progress by default. Seeing BRPS in such a sorry state with all the buildings appearing derelict, paint peeling off, dirt as a trademark almost made me tear. This is a school that has turned 61 years for Christ’s sake.
The teaching staff seem to be victims of a public education system that seems to contradict the Prosperity message being preached around by the powers that be. It is a pity that Jennifer Musisi’s KCCA wants to tax the revenue generated in such a dilapidated excuse of a school without even offering them their required allocation of funds to operate.
With the school administration in tow, we began an inspection of the Toilet facilities after being briefed that for a population of 2800 pupils, there were 75 stances/toilets of which 47 are operational. This gives a ratio of 60 pupils per toilet.
First to hit me as we approached the girls’ toilet was a pungent smell typical of the police cells that detain suspects. This time though I was sure it was caused by urine and fermenting feacal matter as opposed to the body odor of petty criminals in police cells.
These toilets are so deprived that they don’t have any flushing water. Kids have to fetch water in customized 5 litre jerry cans for use after doing their business. I saw this young probably 7 year old girl struggling with one of the cut jerry cans to fetch water from a plastic drum taller than her.
How hygienic such a process is, I leave to your own imagination otherwise Urinary Tract Infections in my view must be one of the major diseases afflicting these pupils especially the girls.
A visit to the boys toilets revealed an even worse scenario. The stench welcoming us was acidic in nature and I could hardly stand it for more than the 60 seconds that i spent in there. How these pupils manage remains a mystery to me.
A chat with the school plumber reveals the major problem being the small pipes that take sewage from the toilets. They get blocked and because of the high demand (too many pupils), this means that they can’t process as fast as desired. Above all considering that most of the students are from homes that hardly have flushing toilets, this introduces another dimension of poor handling.
On a positive note though, the staff at the school seems to have a lot of hope in the future and seem to welcome any initiative aimed at reigniting the flame that BRPS once was. There is a pumped up Music teacher who has even composed a school anthem and had it professionally recorded in a studio, the Bursar who was there during our days is still around, the play ground is still safe thanks to KCCA’s efforts after the previous mayor had made an attempt to sell it off. The teachers’ hostel is still in place though dilapidated and now there is a fully-fledged nursery school too.
With such modern structures enveloping the school’s surroundings, its only prudent that BRPS moves with the times and embraces modern trends too.
As an Old Boy or Old Girl, do you feel comfortable leading your life when you know the sad state of affairs at your Alma Mater? Individually, the task is humongous, however, collectively, we can do something to help these young leaders of tomorrow shape their future free of inhibitors like disease. This is a call for you to join the effort to save Buganda Road Primary School. Together lets improve the hygiene levels of the school. Use the hash tag #SaveBRPS on twitter or join the Norman Godino Alumni group on Facebook for the collective action being planned.
“To Fly on Your Own”