SINDA district education board secretary Feston Mtonga says lack of water in most schools in the district is affecting teacher-pupil contact time. Speaking to district commissioner Paradious Sakala who was addressing head teachers at Tiritonse Resource Centre, Mtonga said education delivery was compromised in the district as pupils traveled long distances to fetch water because most schools had no boreholes.
He said pupils had to fetch water in gardens, dambos or community boreholes and that in some cases, water sources were not hygienic. Mtonga said the situation posed a risk to pupils. He called on Sakala to help in reporting to relevant authorities to ensure boreholes were sunk in schools.
“May I first thank you for this golden opportunity and we would like to bring to your attention some challenges we face as district schools. Most of the schools face water challenges. They don’t have boreholes and for the learners to have water, they have to travel long distances to fetch it either in dambos, shallow wells or at times community boreholes and that has really affected the learners negatively because even service delivery becomes hard as most learners are missing lessons,” Mtonga said. “We, therefore, request your good office to help us report to relevant authorities, or if we can have well-wishers who can help us out in this situation, we can appreciate.”
He also said there was a problem at Sinda Day Secondary School.
“The other major challenge is the issue of Sinda Day Secondary which I can say is a time bomb. When the minister came, he told us to shift because Tiritonse is congested but when we sent people to the school, the Chinese nationals who are the constructors chased us and said the buildings are still in their hands as they have not been handed over to government,” explained Mtonga.
In response, Sakala said he had already engaged provincial permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo to see if they could meet the education permanent secretary to ensure Sinda Day was taken as a special case. He also assured that there was possibility of having more boreholes by December and that if it worked, schools would be the focus. And Sakala told the head teachers that it was unfortunate that issues like the recent fuel increase were being blamed on the government. He also said civil servants were in the forefront of criticising the government.
Sakala said issues like fuel hikes affected the government more than anyone and that it also worried the President so much because “his desire is even to give fuel for free”.
“…fuel increase affects government worse than anyone and if there is a person who might want fuel to be for free, it’s President Edgar Lungu because he wants to be voted for again and remain in power and you can’t tell me it’s his intentions to have fuel hiked,” Sakala said. “Look, [recently] we had the budget released and today fuel is hiked, do you think that can attract a smile on the President’s face? No! It’s us to help him by explaining to the masses that the people that control this world are those with means of production. So once things shake there, then even here it causes such hikes.”
He further asked head teachers to explain why they sent pupils away for their parents’ failure to pay fees. Sakala said early marriages and other vices came about when children were chased from school.
“You are the people that shape the society because you are the second parents to every child. You shape their destiny. You are the masters of pupils’ destination but why do you chase pupils away when their parents fail to pay school fee? Is it the responsibility of a child to pay the fees? You are punishing a child for something she or he doesn’t deserve,” he said. “According to our data, most pupils involved in issues of early marriages, teenage pregnancy, drunkenness and other vices are those once sent off from school due to funds. And who is to blame? It’s us teachers of ignorance instead of literacy. Let’s not chase pupils please, you don’t know the destiny of the child you are sending away.”
On Sinda-Nyanje road, Sakala explained that Zambian contractors were a letdown.
“I regret to inform this house that we have been let down by Zambian contractors and if you check, Sinda is one of the highest district with no black surface in most roads and we suffer because of our own relatives who are Zambians contractors,” complained Sakala.
And in a vote of thanks, Chikalaba head teacher Boston Daka promised Sakala that issues of posting negative comments about the district education board secretary on social media would end.
“The issue of malpractice will be dealt with, the issue of sending away pupils will be stopped so that the district has a good shape in the area of education,” said Daka.