This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
Welcome to the School
Ebukanga Primary School began in 1940 as an early childhood education facility that went up to grade four (grades are different in Kenya), then pupils moved to Emusire to complete their primary education. The school then changed to the Certificate Primary Education system (CPE), which includes all primary grades. Unlike other schools that opened so long ago, Ebukanga has never shut down, not even for a single day; it has been up and running throughout many challenges.
It has given birth to Ebukanga Secondary School that is also very needy (click here to read more about it). A health facility also opened alongside the primary school, and is now helping the entire village.
A lot of the students attending Ebukanga score very high secondary school entrance exam marks and get admission letters from big schools like Lugulu and Chavakali. Most families around here are poor and cannot afford the education fees for better schools; they just move up to Ebukanga Secondary.
A boy from Emmabwi Primary, got a scholarship from Equity Bank after scoring 425 marks in the KCSE. Ebukanga Primary invited him in 2015 to explain how he got a full scholarship to one of the best schools in the country – Alliance Boys High School. This motivated the small children to study hard, and the results were seen in last year's results: three pupils scored over 400 marks and they have also received bank scholarships. The remaining pupils are working very hard to get higher marks so that they can receive the same treatment. If not, their parents will just send them to the cheapest schools that do not have quality education.
Entering Ebukanga Primary School during the school day, you can see children in their school uniform seated in two different groups under the cool shade provided by the school's trees. Drawing closer, it is discovered that the little children have to study under those trees since the classrooms are not enough to accommodate all. Each child is holding a book and a pencil, just doing assignments as a teacher marks the assignment given the previous day. Among the many challenges of this institution is infrastructure; the government has helped them put up a few classrooms, but the population has continued to grow.
This is one of the most populated institutions in Central Bunyore, with their number standing at 1033; 504 boys, 509 girls and 20 staff. This institution is understaffed by about seven teachers; the school board has recently employed three more teachers to help close the gap. These teachers are paid with money received from selling trees to be used as firewood at other institutions, especially small colleges in Luanda. Men are hired to cut the big trees and then transport them to different institutions.
(Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)
Students report to school at 6:40AM with a full jerrycan of water. This water is put to immediate use cleaning the classrooms before morning study hall at 7AM. If students are late, they're the ones normally assigned to latrine-cleaning duty.
Theses students need to bring as much water as they can carry because there's only a 3,000-liter plastic water tank on school grounds. To get more water, the school opted into a tree nursery program. This program donates a 10,000-liter tank for irrigating the nursery beds. This tank sometimes doesn't even have enough water for the plants and trees, and students must use some of the water they brought with them.
Throughout the day, students are dismissed from class to go fetch water from Ebuchebe Spring that has a discharge so low it would take 15 minutes to fill a 20-liter jerrycan. Children have to sit down and wait at the spring until all of the community members have fetched their water first.
The headteacher admits that, "In terms of health, if you follow strictly the required standards then all these schools around here will be closed. None of them have enough latrines and the public health officers, because some of them know us and understand the challenge in this area, just sympathize with us and encourage us to try our best to build many sanitation facilities, otherwise all public schools in Emuhaya and Luanda would have been closed long time ago." She continues, "Generally, I have come to believe that people in Bunyore are very fertile! These schools are all in close proximity but have large numbers of pupils who queue to use latrines in their compounds, thus wasting a lot of class time."
In Ebukanga Primary, both the boys and girls each have eight pit latrines which are all in poor condition. Staff members have one door each for men and women. Proper care is not given to these facilities. Grass has grown and spread from the outside to the inside of the latrines. Their floors slope down, with urine pooling in the bottom corner. The urinal is also pathetic with its stagnant urine mixed with dirt, and yet most boys step inside barefoot. Rubbish is thrown in the garden behind classrooms and kitchen utensils are carelessly scattered on the ground near their old dish rack. The kitchen is poorly ventilated, way below health standards and rubbish is seen all over, just like any other public primary school in this area.
There is one hand-washing station, but it is primarily used by the cook to make sure she doesn't contaminate the food.
Teacher Solomon Eboko Omole told us that "teachers are not qualified health officers, but they try their best to teach our children how to stay healthy. However, some pupils come from very dirty homes, so it becomes hard to train them about health in school. I'm very happy to hear that even parents will attend the health training!"
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training and Hand-Washing Stations
Training will be held for two days. The facilitator will use PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation), ABCD (asset-based community development), CTC (child to child), lectures, group discussions, and handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good practices within the school. The CTC method will prepare students to lead other students into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school. This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as hand-washing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The two hand-washing stations will be delivered to the school, and the club will fill them with water on a daily basis and make sure there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
Plans: VIP Latrines
Two triple-door latrines will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls while the other three serve the boys. And with a new source of water on school grounds, students and staff should have enough to keep these new latrines clean.
Plans: Rainwater Catchment Tank
A 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will also help gather the needed materials such as sand, rocks, and water from the spring for mixing cement (students have already started helping). Once finished, this tank can begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school's students and staff. Students will no longer have to leave their school in search of water.
We and the school strongly believe that with this assistance, standards will significantly improve. These higher standards will translate to better academic performance!