By Juliah Atieno
Education, being a key aspect in the society, requires keen consideration. However, that has not been the case in Nairobi’s Embakasi South. Being one of the densely populated slums in Nairobi, Mukuru requires adequate and affordable public schools due to the fact that people living here suffer economic hardships. Kwa Njenga Primary School located in Mukuru Kwa Njenga and the Mukuru Community Centre formerly Goodrich schools located in Imara Daima are the only public primary schools here. The rest are either private schools or upbeat schools that offer somewhat different standards of education as the majority are located in the backstreet alleys of the locality and rental plots. Some of the adequately staffed private schools, though accessible, are very expensive and do not provide an affordable option to most of the locals.
The two public schools, one that has long since been in existence and the other one just recently snatched from the hands of land grabbers, struggle for existence due to many challenges. They lack enough funds for development, there are never enough teachers to handle the rapidly increasing number of students and this causes strain on the few teachers available. These schools also lack adequate, clean and safe water for consumption within their premises and schools like Kwa Njenga primary school are forced to draw water from the nearby borehole which is always salty and not safe for drinking.
Congestion in these two public schools is always a major challenge. For example in Kwa Njenga primary school, a class hosts about 70-75 students with about 4 sharing a desk in class. This school has an ample playground but there are few sporting facilities being provided within school grounds. Further, there are drug dealing and drug abuse activities from the community members within the playground regardless of whether the school activities are ongoing or not. Also, pupils are occasionally sent home for school fees owing to different reasons like examinations or feeding programs leaving many children in streets and unable to attend classes due to lack of school fees. Due to the high population of over 2000 pupils in the school taken care of by the few number of teachers, the less academically privileged students are left to struggle for the quest of quality education.
As much as quality education is evaluated based on academic progress, it also encompasses other factors including achievements in sports and co curricular activities, the environment within which the school is located and the benefits it brings to the local community, but for some privately owned schools on this slum ,business is always considered more than the quality of education provided.