The New Times (Kigali)

29 August 2014

Rwanda: Burera Island School's Long Wait for Transport Vessel

Teachers and pupils of Birwa 1 Primary School located on Birwa 1 island of Lake Burera have for long waited for a modern boat and lifesaver jackets to facilitate their movement to and from the island.

The school lacks a boat and depends on villagers' vessels for transportation. This greatly interferes with class attendance of teachers who mainly come from mainland.

The school's head teacher, Emmanuel Ayindigira, said transportation poses a serious challenge to the school's operations, making it difficult to realise some of the set goals.

"We are facing a serious challenge. We do not have our own boat, we hire from villagers and pay them when our school receives capitation grant," Ayindigira said.

Teachers expressed concern about the safety of the canoes they use to across the lake, with no lifesaver jackets and unpredictable storms occasionally hitting the lake.

They said the marine police have severally advised them to acquire lifesaver jackets for safety reasons and easy identification.

"Marine police has always warned us against violating marine regulations by not putting on lifesaver jackets," added the head teacher who called upon the Ministry of Education to speed up the process of facilitating the school with a modern boat and lifesaver jackets.

The teachers also decried the manner of transporting stationery to the school, saying the canoes they use aren't strong enough to carry heavy stationery.

They said they raised the concern about the need for an efficient boat in 2008 but their quest has always been met with endless promises.

Citing the challenge as one that calls for urgent attention, the school's English language mentor, Robert Wejuli, also concurred with the view that lack of a proper transportation system is among the factors preventing the school from posting good results.

"The poor transport system has greatly undermined the academic standards of the school,' Wejuli said.

Burera District Education Officer Yumen Musabwa revealed that plans are underway to accord the school a boat and lifesaver jackets before the end of the year.

"The Ministry of Education is aware of the challenges facing the school and will solve the matter before the end of the year," said Musabwa.

He said there are also other island schools facing a similar problem.

Both the teachers and the school's head teacher said solving the challenge will enable them concentrate on raising standards and improving the school's infrastructure.

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