“You see a tent, I see a good classroom”
A teacher shares her sentiment around the new high-performance tent set up by UNICEF
In the flood ravaged Bulembia Primary School in Kasese District where all the school structures were swept away, a teacher shares her sentiment around the new high-performance tent set up by UNICEF
Lillian Nikaru is the class teacher of Primary Two at Bulembia Primary School in Kasese District. She teaches 84 children Literacy, English and Mathematics in a high-performance tent newly erected by UNICEF. Lillian started teaching at Bulembia Primary School in 2013, when it still was a model school replete with all the necessary structures and was a witness when two floods completely destroyed the school. In 2014, half of the school structures were swept away leaving only two classroom blocks and some staff houses. In May 2020, Lillian ran out of her house at the top of the Rwenzori ranges when she heard a loud unceasing rumble and looked downhill.
“There was nothing left. The floods had swept away everything, the classrooms, the staff houses, everything!”.
Though her own house wasn’t damaged, Lillian packed her mattress and a suitcase of belongings, locked her house and shifted to Kasese Town where she rented a house. She felt it was safer there. “We felt lost, my fellow teachers were displaced; property was lost and gardens were swept away. It really was a struggle to survive, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown when we had no source of livelihood. Lillian says, “When school reopened, we used to commute over 10km to and from school every day.” Lillian moved back to her house after a few months but some of her colleagues still walk from town and are occasionally late for class. Some teachers did not return to the school, but Lillian did “because education is critical.” Her passion for education was instilled in her as a child, when her father purposed to educate her and her sisters contrary to the then prevalent belief that girls weren’t meant to go to school. “Because I went to school, I have been able to look after my family even as a woman.” Lillian has ensured that all her three children go to and remain in school.
Lillian loves her new classroom. Previously, all 139 children in Primary Two sat in one classroom converted from a Kilembe miner’s house. “Wherever you put me I will teach my children, however, the old classroom was simply too congested.” She says, “This tent is very suitable as a classroom, the children prefer it.” She points out the abundant ventilation as her favourite feature; when it is hot, the tent can still remain cool through the ventilation from the large windows and doors, which keeps the children alert. During cold weather, the flaps can be drawn to keep the children warm.
“ I am so happy that the children can now pay attention in any weather.” Lillian says with a wide smile, pointing at the Primary Two classroom.
“You see a tent; I see a good classroom,”