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Poor WASH facilities in most schools in Freetown

…our investigation reveals

February 15, 2017 By Elizabeth A. Kaine & Ibrahim K. Turay

A survey conducted by Concord Times in various government assisted schools across Freetown has revealed inadequate water and sanitation facilities to the teeming number of pupils.

The Evangelical Primary School, situated in the hillside community of New England Ville, has over five hundred pupils, with only one toilet available for use by both pupils and teachers.

According to one of the senior teachers, Vamba Nyallay, the school has over the years been operating without toilet facility and that the current one was constructed with financial contributions from parents.

“Parents contributed ten thousand Leones per pupil and we used the money to construct this lone toilet. The toilet has three apartments – one for boys, one for girls, while the remaining one apartment is used by teachers,” he said.

“You can see that this is not enough to serve over five hundred pupils. We are receiving new comers every academic year, therefore we need government support to enable us construct more toilet.”

He said pupils fetch water from a nearby mini dam constructed by the Member of Parliament representing Constituency 109 to use of the toilet.

Infant Head Teacher at the St. Joseph’s Primary School on Charlotte Street in Freetown, Dorothy S. Lansana, said they buy 30 jerry cans of water at the cost of two thousand Leones (Le2,000) each on a daily basis for pupils to flush the toilet.

Madam Lansana stated that the only available pipe borne water at the school was currently out-of-use.

“We have complained about the lack of water facility to Guma Valley Water Company times without number but the situation has remained unaddressed,” she lamented.

On her part, Head Teacher of St. Joseph Primary School, also on Charlotte Street, Alice M. Kargbo, expressed similar concern but added that arrangements were being made to fix the defunct tap situated at the school compound.

 “We buy jerry cans of water on daily basis for the pupils to use the toilet. We have five flush toilets that cannot go without water. I cannot tell you that the school toilets are 100 percent clean because they are being used by children without adult supervision,” she said.

Joseph Jabbie, a senior teacher at the United Methodist Church (UMC) Primary School, Dwarzark, Freetown, said the school has toilet facility but no water facility to make the toilet useable.

He said government had provided a Milla Tank but there has been no water supply to the school for years now.

“This situation has caused a lot of problems for us. Sometimes, the pupils have to go out of the school compound to fetch water to enable them use the toilet. They sometimes return to the school with wet uniforms and that is also not good for their health. That Milla Tank is not useful to us (pointing to it),” he said.

Jabbie said the only hand-pump borehole in the school has dried, while in 2012, the Guma Valley Water Company pipe that ran through the school compound was destroyed during the Dwarzark road construction.

However, Principal of one of the renowned secondary schools, Albert Academy, Morie J. Aruna, told a different story altogether, stating that the lack of WASH facility at his school was a thing of the past.

“A borehole has been dug last year by one of the old boys of the school and that has salvaged the situation for us,” he disclosed.

He stated that they use electricity to pump water from the borehole into two miller tanks provided them by the government.

“Water is a socially vital economic good that needs increasingly careful management for sustainable human economic growth. That is why I made it a priority when I took over years back,” he said

He noted that access to safe and adequate water to meet basic human needs was fundamental to human rights.

“In early 2014, pupils at the Albert Academy used to defecate in the open at the compound but this has improved greatly over the few years,” he said.

 

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