(ERGO) – Abdikafi Mohamed Adan, 14, carries a mat from home to and from his school in Dundumale village because there are no desks and chairs in his classroom.
“The blackboard is hanging up on the wall and we are sitting down on the ground, so we have to keep looking up at the board,” Abdikafi said.
“We get tired and feel neck pain. I can’t keep doing that, I am very tired. We would like to get chairs and tables!”
The school with brick classrooms was built in August by Garowe local government. The 108 children enrolled come from families who lost their livestock in recent droughts.
Abdikafi’s family came to village in 2016. They have a small herd of 30 goats that survived the drought.
He says it is hard to concentrate and he doesn’t manage to write down what he needs from the board before the teacher leaves.
“When pupils are shouting and standing in front, I cannot see the board, and I often have to stand up to try to copy down the questions,” he said.
Falastin Abdikadir Awad, the headteacher of Dundumale primary school, was also displaced by drought. She admits that the study conditions detract from learning.
“You can guess when the children are sitting on the ground, and they are young, they feel tired. You are trying to make them understand the lesson but they get tired looking up at the blackboard,” Falastin said.
The fees at the school are seven dollars a month per child. The school divides the children into two shifts in order to teach them all.
There are only two teachers, each paid $250 a month from the fees. Thirty children study free because they are from poor families. The rest of the money goes to general running costs.
Hawa Ma’isha Aw-Mohamed, a parent, has a daughter and a son at the school. She commends the establishment of the school but calls for improvements to the facilities.
“I had two mats at home but I gave them to my two children. Apart from the remaining one, I now have nothing to use for welcoming guests who come to my home!” she said.
“It is possible the children may fail to understand the lessons due to lack of concentration because they get tired.”
Hawa, who has two daughters and two sons altogether, came to the village two years ago from a remote rural area. They have just 30 goats left.
Abdirahman Sa’id, Dundumale village chief, told Radio Ergo that the school was built after the villagers sent proposals to the government. He called on Puntland education ministry for support to buy desks and chairs.
“The project did not include chairs and tables. We don’t think the ministry and the authorities left us behind but we still hope to get more from their side,” he said.