Dennis Spencer and Izzy Anderson November 2013
Arriving back at Muko School in October of this year was a bit of a disappointment as there had been a misunderstanding as to when the closure date was, meaning that when we arrived is was still occupied with students and any work that was intended could not be started until the following week. This first week was therefore taken up buying materials, meeting builders, recruiting a more than eager workforce and making plans for the works that were intended. Other times meeting old friends and sitting under a tree eating lunch.
With the absence of Immaculee due to the birth of her baby the day before we arrived, Wellars the head teacher had become the “Man in Charge”. It soon became apparent he was an excellent negotiator, and was available at all times and for whatever reason.
Work started the following Monday morning with Izzy and her team soon into their old routine of scrubbing classroom walls, soon to be followed by men fixing damaged areas and painters. A total of fourteen classrooms where painted this year.
The old original block of classrooms had all their old windows/shutters and doors removed, these have now been replaced by much larger units allowing light and ventilation into the otherwise very hot and dark rooms. More concrete footpaths have been laid outside meaning that now nearly all classrooms are linked and the children no longer have to walk in mud to get from one room to another.
A number of doors that get damaged due to the strong gusty winds that seem to come from nowhere, have all been replaced or repaired. Work has also been started on a new and desperately-needed ten cubicle toilet block.
It was with some disappointment that we learned that the four large water tanks that we had purchased last year had not been installed properly, and are therefore not being used. The reasons for this are a little unclear – it does mean that the school is now relying on just one large water tank as the tap on the other one is broken and is proving difficult to replace.
At this time a new block of four classrooms is under construction which should be ready for the beginning of the 2014 first term. This is being funded partly by the parents of the pupils.
The school nursery that Izzy help to set up in 2012 has had a few teething problems, a lot of which seem to have been caused by the absence of Immaculee this year. It is hoped that these have now been sorted and that things might run more smoothly in 2014.
- Toilets are a major problem and priority as soon as funds become available
- Further help with TEFL and English language speaking practice is needed
- A library is being considered
- Concrete floors are still required in a number of the old classrooms
- Plastering of walls is required in six of old classrooms
- Broken windows need replacing
- External footpaths to be completed
- Further water storage tanks to be purchased and installed
- Windows and doors to be replaced in the two remaining old classrooms
Although work had started on digging a soakaway pit for a new ten cubicle toilet block, (which we were able to fund) before our departure, this can only be completed if and when the final balance of £1500 is obtained. There is also a problem with another block that had been built, in that the pit does not soak away, and is therefore full. Money is not available to bring the lorry from Kemembe to clear its contents.
Arrangements have been made with Wellars so that as soon as funds become available these works will be addressed, along with the proper installation of the water tanks.
Agreements have been made with Immaculee, that Wellars will remain in charge of future works and that all tenders will be submitted from at least two sources before any major project commences. It is intended that the new toilet block has priority as soon as money is made available.
The School will (when the new block is complete) have a total of 39 classrooms, two of which are taken up by the nursery, and a further two as teachers rooms, leaving 35 operational classrooms to accommodate over 2400 children attending on a split shift basis, with only 29 teachers.
This is still a long term project and although there is still much work to do at the school standards are slowly improving.