Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General may have visited Arua last week, but it might take hours for Inyau Primary School to benefit from such a high-profile visit.
Guterres, who was in Uganda for the UN-backed Solidarity Summit on Refugees, on Thursday briefly visited Inyau on his way to Imvepi Refugee Settlement, home to over 100,000 refugees from South Sudan.
Located 57km from Arua town, Inyau primary school is a Universal Primary Education school in Ijako Village, Lugbari Parish; Odupi Sub County. Being the nearest primary school to the refugee settlement, thousands of refugee children have flocked the school for lessons.
Hosting refugees appears to have had a toll on Inyau Primary School. The school has only nine teachers taking charge of 1,642 pupils. Of these, 1,050 are refugees. This has impacted on pupil assessment leading to poor performance.
Charles Draga, the School head teacher, says the numbers are overwhelming and have stretched the meagre resources including the seven classrooms and four toilet facilities.
According to Draga, the school has 896 boys and 746 girls. Boys share two latrines while girls share four which he says are not enough. Pupils sit on the floor while others stand due to shortage of furniture.
In an interview with the school head teacher, on average each classroom has 240 pupils compared to 55 the classes are designed for. He says that at the school, the conditions have worsened due to high numbers of pupils.
Draga notes that because majority of the pupils in the school are refugees, their attention span is low since the school doesn’t provide them with lunch.
“They leave earlier than expected. Few look healthy and others look really weak because of the hunger and other conditions,” Draga says.
Even with the overwhelming pupil numbers, Inyau primary school is yet to receive additional funding from government to take care of the pupils. From the previous pupil registration, Draga says that government has been giving the school about 800,000 Shillings quarterly as subvention.
He however says that they have not received any additional funding since the influx of refugees, something that has put pressure on the available facilities including toilets.
Ahead of Guterres’ visit to the Imvepi, the school benefited from construction of four temporary toilet structures.
While the world pays attention to the refugees in different settlement camps, Draga’s attention is on managing thousands of pupils in a school with space enough to accommodate less than half the number.