THE first major education related news item that caught my eye this year has been the recent announcement by the Kigali City Council (KCC) to inspect some ‘red category’ schools to see if they are in good condition.
The city council officials insist that these schools will not be allowed to reopen unless they get their act together as far as sanitation is concerned.
I wouldn’t want to give KCC too much credit for this is a job they are indeed paid to do. However the fact that some schools have been put under red shows that something is not right.
It is indeed very bad publicity for these schools to be in this category. How can they now attract new students with such a despicable reputation?
The fact that it is a new year really puts these schools in a tight situation making it difficult to attract new students.
Therefore one may question the timing of the inspections. However the question we need to be asking ourselves is how this scenario can be avoided.
What I think the city council needs to be doing is to regularly inspect schools and therefore prevent them from slipping to the red category which puts people’s lives at risk. Sanitation is a very important aspect that the KCC ought to take more seriously.
Instead of waiting a month to the day of school reopening, they should be doing this exercise more regularly and with strict follow up practices.
To get the best or better results, the KCC should pay surprise visits to a school and then thoroughly check the facilities of the school.
Small talk with some students can be crucial to reveal cases of cover ups by the school authorities. In case some things are found amiss, a meeting between the city council and the school authorities should be held.
KCC should clearly point out what it expects from the school and the repercussions of not meeting these conditions.
The two sides can then reach a compromise and set a timeline in which relevant changes will be undertaken by the school to meet the expected health and sanitation standards.
The KCC officials can later return to the school on the agreed date to see the progress of developments by the school.
This way we can effectively avoid the scenario where a school exists for more than five years without meeting the basic sanitary conditions that befit the place.
Regular checks can put the schools on pressure to not only put in place but also to maintain high standards of sanitation. Once the schools realise that KCC does regular check ups, they too will be compelled to institute regular maintenance and fumigation.
Another major problem that needs to be addressed is that of congestion in the schools. The fact that the number of schools keeps increasing should be reason enough for older schools to decongest.
Some boarding schools have very huge numbers that strain the sanitation facilities.
You may find a school that meets all the sanitation requirements but then again the huge student population overwhelms these facilities. Not surprisingly, the same problem is faced on the academic front.
You have a school boasting of a computer room but the ratio of the machines to the students makes it simply a computer exhibition room!
The practice of having students sharing one bed ought to be gradually done away with. Although it was an understandable arrangement given high number of school going children, we should not close our eyes to the fact that it creates a suitable environment for the spread of communicable diseases.
Any teacher can testify to the way infections like cough and colds easily spread among the student population largely because the students sharing beds find themselves sharing the air and the germs in it.
Academic goals can only be achieved in a healthy setting and therefore the city council and education ministry need to be strict.Follow https://twitter.com/ssojo81