Residents of Wayuni and Lailoni villages have got reprieve after the first primary schools were constructed in their areas.

Learners from the two villages that are 12 kilometers apart were previously trekking long distances to the nearby schools at Kipao and Handaraku villages.

It was not an easy task as the learners risked their lives walking through forests and crossing the mighty River Tana to seek education.

Jare Boneya, from Lailoni village said that the Lailoni primary school will help reduce the distance their children used to travel to Handaraku primary school, 14 kilometers away.

He added that the children had to wake up as early as 4:00 am and walk through wild animal infested forested areas before crossing the River Tana using a makeshift bridge that they are charged to use.

Learners from Handaraku Primary School cross a makeshift bridge on their way from school in Tana Delta Sub County, Tana River County. Photo by KTMN Correspondent, KTMN.

“Our children used to go through a lot of suffering especially when the river is flooded and wild animals are roaming around. We thank the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) through our MP Ali Wario for constructing the school.

The two schools were handed registration certificates by Mr Wario hence opening them up for government capitation.

The Deputy Head Teacher of Hanadaraku primary school Isaac Gichuki said that the new schools will lessen the burden on learners and that they will be at less risks of interacting with wild animals on their way to school.

“The new school will absorb at least 30 percent of learners who had to cross the river to my school and we will only remain with learners from the Handaraku side of the river,” he said.

He added that when the river is swollen, the bridge becomes impassable as it is submerged in the water and learners and teachers are forced to seek alternative ways of crossing or even skip school altogether.

“Some learners have to cross the bridge and they have to pay Sh. 5 to cross to the other end since it is a private bridge and when the river gets swollen, we use the canoes to cross and the charges are the same,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Mr Salim Jarso from Handaraku village who said that a number of children have been attacked by crocodiles while crossing the river and some lost their lives.

“We have more than 200 learners who cross to Hnadaraku to attend school and one old man is the one that constructed this makeshift bridge to help us cross to the other villages,” he said.

He is appealing to the government to set up a foot bridge on the river to ease communication since residents of Hanadaraku village have to cross to Madingo area for shopping purposes.

“We depend on Madingo shopping center for shopping and without a bridge we get disadvantaged and all we need is a bridge and the government should come to our aid,” he said.

Mrs Waithera Abajilo urged the government to equip the schools so that they can cope with the high number of learners.

She added that Handaraku primary school has a population of 780 pupils but there were only seven classrooms and one has been converted into a staffroom for teachers.

“We want the schools to get fences around them and recently a buffalo attacked a learner but he luckily survived,” she said.

Garsen MP Ali Wario also called on the government to employ and post more teachers in schools within his constituency saying that the scarcity of teachers played a huge role in the poor performance in national examinations.

“We want the government to employ more teachers in our schools since we have a huge shortage and teachers who are posted in our schools seek relocation months after being posted since they don’t come from among us,” he said.

He also urged residents to enroll their children who complete form four to teachers training colleges so that they can have enough teachers from the local community.
“Let our children join Teachers Training Colleges so that we can have enough teachers from our area,” he told parents.

His call also targeted the government by urging for the lowering of admission grade to teachers training colleges saying that the move will help residents from marginalized areas admit more learners to the institutions.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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