Why Nyatoto Mixed School is different from other schools

Several school principals are worried their institutions will find it cumbersome to admit Form Ones next week.

Many of them do not know where the incoming students will study, eat and sleep quite literally.

Most learning institutions do not have adequate space to accommodate the increasing number of learners.
The situation is however the opposite of what is happening at a secondary school in Homa Bay County that is on the verge of collapsing because of having very few learners. 
Since the government introduced a 100 per cent transition policy where all class eight pupils must proceed to join form one, most principals have been grappling with a shortage of space to accommodate more students.
The situation was made worse by the outbreak of Covid-19 last year which forced school managements to improvise ways of creating space for learners both in class and in the dormitory, library and laboratory.
At Nyatoto Mixed Secondary School in Suba South Constituency however, the race is on to woo more pupils from local primary schools to join the school to save it from being shut.
The school has 85 students with no signs of new ones joining the school soon.
At the assembly, the whole school, in comparison to other secondary schools in Homa Bay County, is like a small group of students from just one class.
Some schools in Homa Bay have up to 3000 students with more expected to join form one.
Nyatoto on the other hand expects 92 form one students.
But this is not guaranteed as parents around the school shy away from taking their children to the institution.
School Principal Michael Henry said troubles facing the school started in 2019 when disgruntled students went on the rampage over claims of poor school management.
“Boys did not like sleeping in a dormitory made out of iron sheets while girls were in a permanent building. I had not been posted here by then,” he said.
Most parents, in their hundreds, took their children out of the school until the 85 were left.
“Those who were left could not afford to pay fees in other schools. Otherwise the school could have remained without a single student,” Mr Henry claimed.
Fewer students at the school goes against the objective of the institution of promoting quality secondary education to all primary school leavers within the area.
There are currently 33 students in form two and 33 others in form three.
Since the strike by students three years ago, the institution has never been the same.
The principal blamed parents around the school for some of the troubles.
Mr Henry said most parents do not want to admit enrol their children at the school.
Instead, they enrol them in the neighbouring schools.
“Girls can stay at the school at the boarding section. It is an added advantage to students who come from far but still most parents prefer taking their children to other schools and not this one,” the principal said.
The school management also blamed low economic status of parents around the school as another challenge affecting the institution.
A lot of parents are said to be complaining about difficulties in paying school fees therefore prefer other schools that have lower rates.
“Our school has a challenge in manpower and infrastructure. The teaching staff are very few and the materials used in learning are not there,” Mr Henry said.
During a recent meeting between the school management, parents and Suba South MP John Mbadi, the principal presented a list of what could save the school from collapsing.
He said Nyatoto Mixed Secondary School will be in a better position if it has a school bus.
The management is also asking for improvement of infrastructure at the school.
“Priority areas include construction of a boys dormitory, girls bathroom, school borehole and addition two classrooms. We have also made an application to be a full boarding school,” he said.
Other wish lists for the school include the construction of four pit latrines, two water tanks, office furniture, construction of a dining hall and reinforcing the school fence which the management believes will attract more students.
Mr Mbadi however blamed the school managers for the troubles facing them.
He accused the school board of mismanagement saying it affects academic performance which drives out students.
The school had a mean of 3.5 in 2020 KCSE results up from 2.8 in 2019.
“If the school wants to turn around and get back to its feet, it must improve on its academics. Students are only attracted to good performance. You have the largest compound, good classrooms and a laboratory so there is no excuse that students are not performing,” Mr Mbadi said.
According to the legislator, Nyatoto Mixed Secondary has good infrastructure that should enable the school to perform well in academics.
The office of the MP  plans to buy four school buses in the current financial year.
Mr Mbadi said one of the busses will be taken to Nyatoto for students to use the vehicle for academic trips.

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