Nkhotakota Community Operates Unregistered School For 10 Years

The unregistered junior primary school, Chankhanu, in Nkhotakota The unregistered junior primary school, Chankhanu, in Nkhotakota

Some community members in one of hard to reach areas in Nkhotakota, are operating an unregistered junior primary school called Chankhanu, for 10 years now, with hope that it shall one day, be recognized by government and become a public institution.

With about 400 pupils that do not have student code numbers, the school has only one volunteer teacher, 52 year old Ariel Bisalomo Chimbeleko.

While it does not receive any government support, other well-wishers are reluctant to come in due to the registration matter.

This is a school which is located at a distance of about 70 kilometers from Nkhotakota District Headquarters, close to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, about 15 kilometers from Mwalawatongole.

Chimbeleko said children were walking on a distance of about 15 kilometers to access education at Mwalawatongole, which prompted community members to open the school.

The teacher, further said it is his wish to have the school recognized by government.

‘We buy teaching and learning materials such as chalk on our own using 200 Kwacha contributions made by each community member,” said Chimbeleko.

The teacher who said his highest academic qualification is Junior Certificate of Education (JCE), further said he survives on a monthly honoraria from money which community members contribute.

“I am proud that some of the former learners of this school are now in secondary schools in different areas, some are in form 4 others form 3,” he said.

Chankhanu Primary School has two grass-thatched classrooms which were constructed by the same community members.

There is also a borehole which was drilled by a charitable organization.

In an interview with Zodiak Online, Ward Councilor for the area, Wanangwa Harawa, accused Nkhotakota District Education Office of delaying to register the school, saying that is preventing community members from accessing the much needed support, in areas such as construction of additional classrooms.

“The District Education Office has been resisting to register the school since 2012. I always wonder why the office is doing this. There are other schools which are in bad conditions than Chankhanu yet they are registered,” he said.

According to Harawa, there was an assurance from some officials at the education office in 2012, that they were ready to facilitate the school registration process.

On whether or not he is of the opinion that the school should be closed considering its current status, Harawa said that can only worsen the situation, as learners in junior classes depend on it.

However, District Chief Education Officer, Getrude Maliko, says people of the area, were advised to follow recommended procedures to register the institution but that is yet to be done.

Education Expert, Dr. Steve Sharra, has since described the blame game that has arisen on the matter, as regrettable.

He says this could have been avoided had there been focus on education as a right, provided for by the Constitution and the Education Act of 2013.

“The government has a duty and responsibility to provide education to every citizen. This entails an obligation by duty bearers to be proactive in seeking out communities that are deprived of this right, and taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation,” he said.

Sharra further pointed out that the community needs to be commended for taking the initiative and doing what he described as “government's work” to construct the school.

“It is disturbing to learn that 58 years after independence, we have children walking 15 kilometers, to access basic education. It is good that this issue has come out. Let us hope government and other stakeholders will step in and do the right thing towards achieving the 2030 and 2063 goals, said Dr. Sharra”.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Number 4, advocates for an inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.

 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 16/08/2022

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