By Getahun Legesse @Birmaduu2
Addis Abeba – Once hailed as one of the affirmative responses to accommodate the needs of Oromo residents of the Addis Abeba city who want to send their kids to study in Afaan Oromo-only Schools, the teachers and students in these schools are now reeling from the double shock of chronic lack of basic facilities, which contribute to the poor quality of education, according to teachers, students and parents who spoke with Addis Standard.
The schools were initially set up with funds from the Oromia regional state education bureau and donations from charity organizations. A year into their operations the administration of these schools were transferred to the Addis Abeba City Administration Education Bureau.
Despite still being in operation, the schools are now facing lack of basic requirements that a school should fulfill as they are in desperate shortage of facilities such as water supply, shortage of classrooms and problems related to hygiene.
“On average, about 70 to 80 students are congested in one room mainly due to lack of class rooms. For instance, all grade eight classes contain 80 students. And some classes with a small number of students may contain 50 students,” a teacher at General Wako Gutu school who preferred to remain anonymous, said.
“We have books, but we are unable to open a library as we do not have a vacant room. There was this building [the teacher pointed to a five-story building under construction] which was started and has now been halted due to unknown reason,” the teacher added.
He also highlighted that water shortage has induced hygiene-related problems. ”Water runs only twice a week. We don’t have enough containers to store water. Students barely wash their hands before and after dining. Schools are supposed to promote cleanness; as a teacher, I am ashamed of educating the pupils about hygiene.”
“On average, about 70 to 80 students are congested in one room mainly due to lack of class rooms. For instance, all grade eight classes contain 80 students”
He expressed his frustration on how the water shortage aggravated sanitary hygiene coupled with insufficient restrooms. ”The school has only two sets of restrooms with about five or six cells for a total of more than 2,000 students. Apart from poor hygiene, the restrooms do not serve regularly as there has been an acute shortage of water supply,” the teacher said.
Addis Standard observed that the restrooms in General Wako Gutu Primary School (grades 1-8) are untidy as the water has not been running. There is a three or four-story building which was under construction but is now halted for an unverified reason. The Afaan Oromo-only school’s overall condition lags far behind when compared to other schools in Addis Abeba.
Students of General Wako Gutu Primary School who have spoken to Addis Standard corroborated that the problems pointed out by the teacher have challenged the teaching-learning process. The students said the shortage of water supply is causing a chain of problems related to hygiene. Fenan Adamu, a student at the school, also mentioned that the school lacks rooms that female students need such as fitting rooms.
Addis Standard also spoke to teachers at General Tadesse Biru Secondary School which is located in the Gullele sub-city in an attempt to assess the quality of education and availability of educational facilities in the school. The teachers have underscored that the schools have been challenged by the budget deficit.
“Opening school alone is not enough to facilitate the teaching-learning process. There are other services that are inseparable from the process. The community of the school, including us teachers, have made significant contributions to curb the existing problems. Parents have made a financial contributions to resolving the shortage of facilities such as shortage of classes, restrooms, playgrounds and so on. The ground was dusty before it was furnished by the funding secured from parents,” a teacher at General Tadesse Biru High School said.
The teacher also pointed out that the number of only Afaan Oromo schools across Addis Abeba is not enough to meet the demand for schooling.
“The number of schools is limited, and they are not large enough to accommodate many students. To your surprise, students travel a very long distance to come to our school. And there is an acute shortage of [public] transport in Addis Abeba,” the teacher added.
The teachers of these schools are well qualified as they have taken an entrance exam before they join the schools, according to the teachers. General Wako Gutu High School does not have its own compound and building. The students are learning in a rented building, according to the teachers.
The situation in other schools is no different than Gereral Wako Gutu and General Tadesse Birru schools. A parent who spoke to Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity said, even though she want her kid to get education in his mother tongue, which is Afaan Oromoo, she decided to send him to a private school, where pupils are taught in Amharic and English, after visiting a nearby Afaan Oromo only Burka Wayu Primary School which is located in the Nifas Silk Lafto sub-city.
She said the school has a very poor hygiene and the quality of education is also compromised which led to several families to pull out their kids from the school and admit them to nearby private schools.
The classrooms are not quality up to the standard, the restrooms are untidy, and the playground is dusty, and students come back from school with a lot of dust all over their bodies, she added.
A teacher at General Wako Gutu Primary school said that they have raised the issue of water shortage to the Kolfe Keranyo sub-city, the woreda administration and other concerned bodies.
Despite quick responses from the city administration, officials at the sub-city and woreda level have been unresponsive to teachers requests. “At least they could have provided us with water as it is not a difficult question” the teacher said.
The school’s communities have demanded stakeholders to render the necessary support that could help enrich the teaching-learning process in the schools.
Addis Standard’s multiple attempts to reach respective sub-city and woreda level officials where the schools are located were not successful. Head of the Addis Abeba Education Bureau Zelalem Mulatu however responded to Addis Standard’s request for comment saying that “there hasn’t been any problem presented” to his office concerning the schools, but promised to follow through. AS