The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 caused several challenges that nearly took the country to a standstill. Some sectors were hit with the education sector bearing the biggest brunt.
However, it was not all doom and gloom for Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) sponsored public schools across the country. The closure of schools countrywide as a result of the pandemic provided an opportunity for the schools to receive major facelift ahead of the reopening in January 2021.
The KDF sponsors a total of 31 schools that cut across the ECDE, Primary and Secondary levels. The schools are located within the vicinity of several military barracks spread across the country.
Some of the schools include; Moi Forces Academies located in Nairobi, Lanet and Mombasa, Isiolo Barracks Primary and Secondary Schools, Nanyuki Garrison Barracks Primary and Secondary Schools, Laikipia Air Base ECDE, Primary and Secondary Schools, Koelel High School, Moi Barracks Primary and Secondary Schools, Thika Garrison Primary and Secondary Schools among others.
The sponsorship of these schools is in line with KDF Standing Orders that allow for establishments of such schools within military establishments.
The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Robert Kibochi, in his vision ‘Sharpening the Arrowhead’, has endeavoured to ensure that all aspects the military are up to the desired best standards as a way of making the KDF Mission Ready.
Because of this, he directed that a committee is formed to assess and improve the infrastructure of KDF sponsored public schools in a bid to strengthen one of the core pillars of the KDF welfare programme.
The Committee chaired by Commander Engineers Brigade, Brigadier Stephen Radina was convened on 15th July 2020 when all 31 KDF sponsored public schools were visited and an assessment was done. The schools were grouped into three categories which were the poor, fair and good state.
The poor state schools warranted major repairs, the fair ones required general repairs and good state ones called for minor repairs.
Based on the report, the release for funds was approved for the commencement if the renovations in October 2020.
The renovations ranged from minor works of painting, roof, floor and wall repairs to complete facelifts of the schools where new toilet blocks were erected, roofs replaced, water points built, electrification and complete overhauls of classrooms and school administration blocks among other major works.
The Engineers Brigade provided personnel skilled in various roles including masonry, electricity works, painting, carpentry and other technical capabilities who formed a significant number of the labour force.
On the other hand, Formation Commanders and Unit Commanding Officers who chair the schools’ Boards of Management played a key role in ensuring the completion of the renovations in good time by supplementing the Engineers’ personnel with sufficient labour force.
They also played a key role in ensuring the needs assessment was successfully done with the Engineers Brigade adopting an oversight role.
The schools’ facelifts caught many students and teachers who were away when the renovations were going on by surprise and they are upbeat that the new look of the schools will have a massive positive impact on the academic performance of the students.
Teachers and learners who spoke in their specific institutions hailed the project saying they have boosted the morale of students and created a more enabling environment for learning.
David Omondi, the headteacher at Embakasi Garrison Primary School boasted that his school has received a major renovation of the leaking roof which has been troubling the school for quite some time.
He states that he is thankful that this is the first time the school has received a major facelift in over 32 years. This is also the case with Nanyuki Garrison Primary, Thika Garrison Primary and Lanet Primary Schools.
“We cannot be sufficiently grateful for having our harmful asbestos roof replaced with more decent and modern roof which is both human and environment friendly,” Mr Omondi said.
Mr Omondi added that the roof which was mounted in 1988 when the school was constructed have been leaking making leaning too difficult during rainy days.
“We have for a long time been witnessing the roof leaking profusely making leaning almost difficult. When it rained, teachers had to assemble the pupils on those spots that were a bit better making learning be highly hampered,” said the headteacher.
He said 15 classes were tiled, the entire school was repainted and wiring works in the classes that had no power connection was also done.
Ms Rose Oduor who teaches Mathematics subject at class eight backed the head teacher’s sentiments saying many a time the books were severely rained on since many spots were leaking in several classes.
“Many of the teachers had a hard time assembling the learners at the middle of the class whenever it started raining since various spots were leaking continuously. If not the roof that was leaking, it was the windows which would freely allow rainwaters to enter the class and disrupting our studies. We are very happy that the roof and windowpanes have been fixed and we can have a smooth leaning,” said the teacher.
She added that many classes did not have a power connection which has remedied by fixing lights making learners report to school early.
“Some of our learners come from slum areas and many of them usually don’t have time to finish their home assignments on time.
They are therefore getting an opportunity to report to classes early in the morning and by the help of power connection they can finish their works on time thus we are utmost grateful to KDF who are our sponsors for undertaking this meaningful project,” said Ms Oduor.
“Our previous floor used to have many potholes and it used to take a lot of time cleaning the classes, this has been replaced with tiled floors whose cleaning works are very swift. Learners can have as much time with their teachers since the lengthy time they would use mopping the classes has significantly been scaled down,” she said.
Ms Mercy Narukha who is the principal at Embakasi Garrison Secondary School said the school has benefitted from ablution blocks for both boys and girls while considering students living with disabilities. Something that was replicated across all the schools that benefitted from the construction of new ablution blocks. Most schools considered creating ramps in all access areas so that student with a disability have an easy time.
“Our student population is above 500 students and we had a huge challenge with lavatories. Our students would queue to relieve themselves and thus would spend much time out even after the breaks were over. With the help of the KDF, we have received ablution blocks which will go a long way solving the shortage and also ensuring our students spend as much time learning than being out,” said Ms Narukha.
Many of the learners committed to exert more efforts in their studies since a majority of the challenges they were facing in their quest for education have been met and solved.
“We thank our sponsors for undertaking these significant facelifts. It is now up to us to ensure we do not allow all the resources used do not go on the drain. We shall do our best and we shall impress our financiers for they too have made us proud, we shall reciprocate the same gesture by doing all we can to improve on performance,” said Maureen Adhiambo, a form-four student at Embakasi Garrison Secondary School.
These renovations will prove to be the game-changer in the education sector of the KDF sponsored public schools as students, teachers and parents are on high spirits and are hopeful that the high morale being expressed by the students will be exhibited in the academic results.
The conducive learning environment created by the renovations has provided the learners and teachers with an opportunity to concentrate more on academics hence work towards improving the results.