DOWA-(MaraviPost)-Standard 8 learners at Dowa 1 Primary School have expressed worry over lack of desks at their school, a situation which has forced their teachers to ask them to bring chairs to school from home to help them learn better.
According to the learners, the situation has disadvantaged some of them, whose parents cannot afford to buy good chairs for their children, forcing them to bring what they called “Kitchen chairs” to class.
Heavily affected are the girl learners who find it hard to participate in class activities like answering questions which require them to stand as demanded by school tradition?
Speaking to The Maravi Post, the learners expressed worry over the situation, saying it will disadvantage them during the standard 8 National Examinations due May, next year (2018).
Shadreck Matimati, a standard 7 learner at the school said he started bringing a chair from home four years ago and finds the practice discouraging.
He says he cannot blame the teachers for the initiative because his school has no desks.
“At least when we bring the chairs we can sit comfortably than if we were left to sit on the floor,” said Matimati.
He asked government to supply desks to his school, saying they write better when using desks than the chairs they bring.
In addition, he said some of his colleagues cannot afford to bring chairs since some parents have more than one child at the school which means more chairs.
Another learner, 13 years old Steven Mwale who is in Standard 8 said the practice although a good alternative, encourages cheating among learners since each of them brings any kind of chair depending on what their parents can afford.
“The result is that we bring chairs of varying heights, this encourages cheating during class work and assessment” he said.
He then asked the authorities to consider supplying desks to his school so as to ease their problems.
Concurring with Mwale, 12 year old Agape Mkwanda who is in standard 8 said she has been greatly affected by the situation.
She said girls have to be careful when standing to answer questions in class as demanded by school tradition as they may end up indecently exposing themselves.
“Tradition requires that we answer questions while standing. If not careful, we expose our private parts which make boys mock or laugh at us. This leads many of us missing classes because of the shame we go through because of the incidents,” she said.
Deputy Head teacher for the school, George Singo, said asking learners through the parents to bring chairs to school started four years ago after noting that learners were not comfortable learning while sitting on the floor.
He said, as a school, they have been reporting the issue to authorities but nothing so far has been done.
Singo said despite the challenge, his school performs well during national examinations saying last year, out of 135 learners, 129 passed, with 64 selected to various National, conventional and community day secondary schools.
Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for Boma Zone, Morgan Mwale, concurred with Singo saying reports on the situation had been periodically made but nothing has been done.
The PEA observed that political leaders influenced school supplies, wondering why many schools in the bordering Dowa East Constituency where he was before, gets supplied with desks often, in addition to enjoying other development activities as compared to those in Dowa North East Constituency.
But Dowa District Education Desk Officer, Joseph Chafukira, while agreeing with the learners, teachers and the PEA, expressed hope that the school would receive the desks soon. He observed that many schools in the district were facing a similar problem.
“Just recently, I received a request to give a list of 16 primary schools in need of desks and Dowa 1 was included. I have heard that the exercise of supplying the desks is currently underway and hope that the school will receive its share soon,” he said.
But Chafukira who said had been forwarding reports on the same issue all along, blamed the system being used to supply desks to schools suggesting that the Supplies Unit needed to be decentralized as a way of speeding up the process as well as cutting costs.
Dowa 1 Primary School under the Proprietorship of Nkhoma Synod has an enrolment of over 1700 learners and is within less than three km from Dowa Boma District Education Office.
Government has of late procured learning and teaching materials in the wake of revision of the syllabus and has intensified the supply exercise to schools to ensure that both learners and teachers have the necessary resources for teaching and learning, but learners at Dowa 1 primary school feel they have been forgotten on desks.