By Ernest Mwape
A traditional ruler in Mpika is disappointed with the MMD government failure to put up dormitories and more classroom blocs at the newly converted Kopa high school despite an assurance that it will do so.
And lack of teachers’ accommodation in the school is compelling teachers to be renting dilapidated grass thatched houses and kitchens in nearby villages in Kopa Chiefdom.
In an interview in Mpika today, Senior Chief Kopa of the Bisa people said the situation was so severe that grade ten pupils were learning under trees and the school administration was also using Church buildings to alleviate the problem.
Chief Kopa said he was saddened with the government failure to fulfill its promise that was made by Rupiah Banda when he was acting as President after the death of Levy Mwanawasa.
He revealed that at the time Banda visited his Chiefdom in 2008 he promised him that his government would construct more structures at Kopa high school because it had fewer buildings. The traditional ruler added that because of an assurance, he asked villagers through village headmen in his domain to mould and burn bricks for the construction of more classroom blocs and teachers houses.
He said each village was requested to make 15,000 bricks and that 120 villages molded bricks close to 1 800,000 and several kilns were constructed.
He said he was pleased when it turned out that the man who assured him had won the Presidential by -election.
“I was pleased to learn that the man who promised me to construct more classrooms at Kopa high school was actually voted into power and I was positive that things will workout well,” Chief Kopa said.
However, Chief Kopa said things had not worked as expected because the situation at the high school has turned from bad to worse adding that even the burnt bricks have now been destroyed by rain.
He said had government constructed classroom blocs and dormitories, the school could have assisted children who travel long distances to attend classes elsewhere.
The traditional ruler said Kopa high school was more central and that the hardships of children from Chief Nsamba on Bangwelu swamps, Chief Kabinga, Luchembe and Chiundaponde could have alleviated.
He said it was unfair for a government high school to be using a community hall and Church buildings as classrooms. The school is currently utilizing Kopa community hall, Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) and United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Church buildings as alternative classrooms from Monday to Friday.
Chief Kopa who said he had on several occasion approached the ministry of education on the plight of pupils at Kopa School said several teachers and their families were renting dilapidated houses and kitchens from his subjects because there were no teachers’ houses at Kopa high school.
He further revealed that due to lack of dormitories in the school, pupils were forced to rent houses in nearby villages the situation he described as dangerous and added that the safety of pupils was being compromised. “It is totally unacceptable to have pupils renting houses in villages, how do you grant their safety,” questioned the Chief.
The kitchen structures, teachers and their families rent range from 20,000 to 50,000 kwacha per month.