Uganda: Ssekabusolo Primary School in Toilet Crisis

Nestled in Juugo parish in the central district of Wakiso, Ssekabusolo primary school is an old pre-independence school in failing health.

An on-the-ground tour of the school found its 314 pupils and staff desperate for basic sanitation and fearful for their health. We arrived at the school a few minutes to the lunch break and the air was foul with the smell from the pit latrine behind the classroom block.

The five pit latrines are shared between teachers and pupils. There's totally no privacy. Pupils in classrooms can clearly see whoever climbs the steps to use the latrines. Some latrine doors don't lock. One stance was condemned for demolition but still stands and pupils continue to use it especially during breaks yet it can cave in anytime.

The school lacks basic sanitation facilities. Unlike its peers like Budo Junior School, Old Kampala primary school, etc, Ssekabusolo Primary school has fallen short of its Catholic Church founders' dream. John Kiggundu, the head teacher, said teachers sharing toilets with pupils is nothing new because the school cannot build new toilets.

"We reported to the district management and they gave us one block. They said there are schools without a single toilet. Our toilet is almost full and you can see the waste, especially the girls, they can easily get infections," Kiggundu siad.

The sanitation challenge hurts the girl-child more especially those in the menstrual cycle age. Some are forced to skip school during their periods. Jane Nakatudde, the deputy head teacher, said the school has 49 girls in the menstrual cycle age and sharing toilets is not healthy.

"... We need to separate the teachers, boys and girls; one door was designed for the disabled children but that's what teachers use," she said.

The school currently has a total enrolment of 314; 165 girls and 149 boys.

Getting help

According to Kiggundu, the school is just 20km from the capital, Kampala but it cannot attract much support from government or well-wishers apart from the Rotary Club of Kampala East and Uganda Baati.

"It is very rare that we get support from the community, most people who help us are not even from around, even our member of Parliament (Peter Sematimba, Busiro South) has not helped much," he said.

Last week, officials from Uganda Baati and Rotary Club of Kampala East visited the school. They are helping build a classroom block. Uganda Baati offered to roof the under construction classrooms while the Rotary Club of Kampala East paid for the construction of the building.

Immaculate Mimi, the corporate communications manager, Uganda Baati, said, "We have donated special roofing materials including iron sheets; this is under Safal group and these donations are part of our education plans."

Loy Masembe Nteyafa, president of Rotary Club of Kampala East, said they first interacted with the school 10 years ago. Without new toilets, Nakatudde said teachers shun the school.

"The toilets are bad, we don't have teachers quarters here; so, the teachers that come don't stay for long. This has forced us to recruit teachers privately," she said.

"Now if we are just 20km from the ministry of Education, 36km from Wakiso district headquarters and we are suffering like this, what happens in Karamoja region or Arua?" Kiggundu wondered.

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