EARLY this year, precisely on January 18, the late President John Magufuli issued an order for the construction of eight classrooms at King’ongo Primary School in Dar es Salaam after he saw a video that went viral on social media showing pupils sitting on the floor.
The Head of State issued a stern warning to Dar es Salaam City authorities when he spoke of irresponsible leaders at a public rally in Kagera Region.
He said it was disheartening for pupils to sit on the floor due to shortage of desks in a constituency that has a Regional Commissioner, District Commissioner, District Executive Director and a professor of education as the constituency’s Member of Parliament.
“I commend the reporter who exposed the rot on social media because there is no politics there like what district leaders wanted the public to believe. These are issues I would like to know about… I’m speaking from Kagera, but when I get to Dar es Salaam, I want to see classrooms built and pupils no longer sit on the floor,” he said.
Dar es Salaam authorities had to hit the ground running in efforts to implement the president’s three-week ultimatum.
Speaking to reporters a few days after the construction of classrooms, Ubungo Municipal Education Officer Abduly Buheti explained the challenges faced by King’ongo pupils studying under trees.
“The issue is that the school accommodates more than 2,500 pupils and we have few classrooms. If you divided the number and match it with the 10 classrooms available, it was difficult to ensure adequate accommodation. Fortunately President John Magufuli shed light on the gravity of the problem,” Buheti said.
In the early weeks of February this year after the president’s order eight classrooms at King’ongo Primary School in Ubungo municipality were built. Ubungo Mayor Japhary Nyaigeza said after receiving a call from President Magufuli all officials visited King’ongo Primary School to assess the situation.
The officials also inspected other schools in the municipality for a similar mission. It is sad to note that after a month President Magufuli issued his order to Ubungo authorities, the nation was informed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan that he died of heart complications.
The news was shocking and people who received the information through social media platforms rushed to national television to confirm the report. Among the people who went to verify the shocking news was the King’ongo Primary School head teacher Failuma Kidesu.
“It was midnight when I grabbed my phone. I was shocked when I found Rest in Peace JPM. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke but I heard the voice of Mama Samia. That was the time I began to realize that it was true our dear president had died. Really, a great shock!”
“I rushed and looked at the national television and confirmed that the information was true. My body was trembled… I couldn’t sleep.”
“President Magufuli has left us an indelible mark here at King’ongo Primary School. It will live our hearts for generations and generations. We thank President Magufuli for the school; it took less than a month for regional authorities to complete the project.” Kidesu continues: “Our pupils now sit very comfortably. Prior to the project our infrastructure was not sufficient to serve the pupil population.”
“For Standard One, we had 400 students; we divided the class in two streams but still the number was too large as a single stream had 200 pupils. It was a challenge in teaching as one teacher was supposed to handle 200 pupils in one room. This is not good academically. Now, after completion of the project the number of pupils in one classroom reached 100.” A teacher at the school, Suzana Lakati, said before the project, toilets were not enough to cater for the entire pupil population.
“Previously there were few toilets for pupils and teachers. The ratio of pupils and toilets was not proportional. After the completion of the project, water is now available at the school.”
Apart from construction of classrooms and toilets, Dar es Salaam regional authorities also handed over desks to ensure pupils do not sit on the floor, according to another teacher at the school, Simon Matemanga. Mr Matemanga says the improvement of the infrastructure yielded positive results as it has increased the rate of pupil attendance.
“The attendance has increased; this is because pupils sit comfortably on desks – in a single desk you will find three or four pupils while previously there were 160 to 200 pupils in one stream compared to the current figure of 100,” Mr Matemanga said.
“There was a huge challenge as truancy reigned high at the school. We’ll remember President Magufuli by working hard because he wanted us all to work hard.” Ms Lakati says that after the completion of the school rehabilitation project, it has been easy for teachers to supervise and mentor pupils.
“The attendance has improved as it is easier for the teacher to see all the children and identify who is present and absent. We as teachers enjoy teaching an accessible class. If the class is accessible the children will understand easier,” she says.
Ms Lakati adds that it was not only school buildings that President Magufuli gave them, but also free education for every Tanzanian child accompanied by free books.
“He did many things, including providing free education as many children in Tanzania were deprived of the opportunity to study. Free education helped many children,” she explains.
“The government has also bought and distributed free books to schools in the country. For instance, in our school we received books for Standard VII pupils.”
Apart from teachers commenting on the rehabilitated school, parents note that the construction of classes has been a great blessing to their children as they have improved academically.
Nsia Amos, a parent, who thanked the late President Magufuli for his great contribution to his child.
“My son has now progressed academically; he has shown a lot of significant changes even the handwriting has now improved. This has impressed and given me joy because before the order was issued he had a very bad handwriting.”
“Apart from his handwriting, he did not do well in his studies. I used to go to his teachers every day, but now he is doing well.” Another parent, Iluminata Rogati, says “I used to punish my child every day whenever I went through his exercise books.
I even wished to send him to another school but after President Magufuli issued the order and it was implemented, things have changed. My son is now completing his assignments and his exercise books are always marked.” Maria Mwamtapu, also a parent, says “I recall those days when my child came home; he was scruffy.
It did not matter if it was sunny or rainy. Thanks to President Magufuli for the school repair project.
“I am very grateful to the late President Magufuli for building us classrooms; the construction of the classrooms will remain an important milestone in our school, says Vernocia Ndumbaro, a parent. “We will always remember our President and pray to God to rest him in eternal peace.” “The classrooms President Magufuli built for us are better than the ones which we had previously,” says King’ongo