Moroto district is experiencing acute shortage of teacher accommodation forcing schools to convert some classrooms into housing for its teaching staff.
When our reporter visited both primary and secondary schools, the situation was so bad because most of the classrooms converted are either dilapidated or have not been maintained in a long time despite efforts by the school heads to have the building refurbished for use.
Simon Meri, the chairperson School Management Committee at Lia primary school in Katikekile sub county told URN that the school is seriously hit by shortage of accommodation and this is affecting lessons in class since some of the staff rent many kilometers away from school.
Meri said the condition has left them with no choice but to use the classrooms to accommodate some teachers who failed to find accommodation outside school.
According to Meri, the school is not getting any money from the parents for fees because many of them have a poor mindset that Universal Primary Education is totally free of charge and everything should be provided at school.
He said they were meant to charge parents for a building fund, but because of that mindset, it will be a waste of time if some cannot pay 5,000 Shillings a term for firewood used to prepare the meals for learners at school.
Rukiya Marijan, the head teacher of Lia primary school says out of 27 staff, they have only sixteen accommodated within the school premises while others are forced to rent outside the school.
Marijan says that even as teachers are forced to rent outside the school many are still challenged because of high prices for house rent.
She added that about four teachers are forced to share the two-bedroomed house since they cannot afford a single house rent of 150,000 shillings per month.
Joyce Mary Agwang, a teacher at Kodonyo primary school in Tapac sub county complained that they always find themselves in a situation where they share the classrooms provided as an option for accommodation.
Agwang noted that there are fourteen teachers and all of them are forced to share only four rooms, a situation she says is unbearable if there is no immediate solution.
The situation is not different from the secondary schools. Twaha Chebet, the head teacher of Moroto high school, appealed to the well-wishers, and government to help them construct more houses for the teachers because the current situation compromises their privacy.
Twaha says all the sixty staff in the school are struggling to share 26 rooms which are also in a bad state and require renovation.
He said his office is overwhelmed with complaints about the status of houses but he cannot do much due to financial constraints.
Twaha said some teachers have been forced to use the kitchen and sitting rooms of other staff houses as accommodation because the school policy does not allow any staff to rent outside school.
Paul Oputa, the Moroto District Education Officer confirmed the crisis saying the teachers are getting very low salaries which are consolidated for medical care, food and rent among others.
Oputa said the government has been sending them some funds of about 210 million Shillings for the construction of teachers’ houses for at least one sub-county per year.
Oputa also revealed that efforts are ongoing to make the dilapidated school facilities more habitable as they look for more funds to construct other structures.
He advised the teachers to stop living in problematic houses but rather look for better houses for rent outside school as they wait for other opportunities of getting more structures at school.
‘’I encourage my teachers to get better rooms outside the school, it is better you rent it and have peace of mind than congesting yourselves in one room, for we are not sure of when the crisis will end,’’ Oputa Reiterated.
Moroto district and the Municipality has 40 primaries and 8 secondary schools with the majority being government aided.