- The community school, which started in 1954, was named Atratraka because it comprises pupils coming from different communities who are combined together to receive education in it
- It was initially managed with full support from the community but their support dropped after government introduced UPE in 1997 and constructed three classroom blocks under School facility Grant (SFG) and NUSAF
By Atiku Robert
Maracha- Atrataka primary school in Maracha district that borders DRCongo is struggling with the high enrollment of pupils from the two countries.
The stakeholders of Atratraka primary school in Oluvu Sub County are appealing to Maracha district local government to build more classrooms and deploy more teachers to manage the overwhelming enrollments at the school this year.
According to the head teacher of the school, Alfred Bada the classrooms and number of teachers in the school are inadequate to accommodate the learning needs of close to 2,500 pupils enrolled in the school so far.
“Although this is a positive turn up, we are limited to offer the best services for these children due to few classrooms. And the 14 teachers here are in adequate. As a head teacher, I am forced to teach English both in P.6 and P.7, how will I get time to attend meetings in the district and supervise the teachers?”
Parents are reportedly motivated to send their children to the school due to its good performance in PLE in the recent years. Atratraka primary school, is located less than 300metres away from Uganda-DRC border. The school draws some of its pupils from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
According to a teacher from the school, who preferred anonymity, to speak freely about the matter, the large enrollment has hindered employment of professional practices for class control especially in lower classes. The teacher said, pupils in lower classes struggle for access to classrooms and desks on daily basis.
“We are worried learning is not taking place as expected here because we are limited to do our work professionally, there is no fixed sitting arrangement and late comers sit on the ground, close to the chalkboard and others automatically are relegated to learn under trees.”
According to P.1 class teachers they have enrolled over 400 pupils and congest 300 of them in a class that is supposed to accommodate 55 pupils and the excess pupils are taught under a mango tree.
Isabella Gala the P. 4 English teacher stated that the girls fear to move in the class room because pupils have to jump over the closely parked desks to access seats.
The parents are already getting concerned since the performance in the school is dropping steadily as manifested in the PLE results for last year where only two candidates passed in grade one compared to eleven candidates in grade one in 2017.
PTA chairperson of the school, John Roku says some teachers have been transferred from the school without replacement.
“The school previously had 28 teachers, before some of them were transferred without replacement and currently, only 16 teachers remain on the payroll, two of whom are even on leave.” Roku said.
The SMC chairperson of the school, Peter Asema also appeals for government support in constructing teachers’ houses as the school is accommodating some teachers in abandoned class rooms.
“The government should build permanent houses for teachers straight away because if the parents construct temporary structures here it will block space for major projects in future as the school has limited land,” Asema said.
The Secretary for Social Services in Maracha District Council, Bako Judith, said they are committed to support infrastructure development based on reports from the inspectors of schools across the district but they prioritize the resources to worst affected schools due to inadequate funds.