Kanyenda Full Primary School in Ntchisi has four blocks, which when viewed from the air, form an â€˜nâ€™ shape with sharp edges. The school uniform is a rare blue coloured, almost like cyan. And there are many pupils.
There are only 30 desks at the school. The senior class, Standard 8, is privileged to use them. But even then what can 30 desks do to a class of 110? The rest of the school sits down, on the floor.
It is a floor made of mud. Every Wednesday and Friday girls take time to apply a new layer of earth (mud). After two days the mud is dust and a new layer is commissioned again.
There are nine teachers against 1 200 pupils, that is 133 heads for one teacher. The teachers live in small dilapidated houses that line the eastern side of the school. Even the parents/teacher association is aware of the situation.
â€œHouses are dilapidated, teachers living in them pay K600 ($2) but that is not enough to do any visible maintenance,â€ said MaongaChikombe, the PTA secretary.
The school head teacher Emily Banda does not hide the low motivation levels among teachers, but says they commit themselves for humanityâ€™s sake.
â€œOut of 66 students that sat for Maneb [Primary School Leaving Certificate] exams, 50 have passed,â€ said Banda.
Despite the success rate in exams, the school is definitely a place where parents should bar their children from going. There are four latrines for girls and only two for boys. However, they are latrines by name, in reality they are piles of brick and earths with grass stacks.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security UlemuChilapondwa, who is also parliamentarian of the area, on Wednesday rushed home to try to alleviate the ills that the schools in the area are swimming in.
â€œI brought 60 bags of cement, 40 iron sheets and 20kg of 6 inch nails. Kanyenda school will get 30 bags of cement to kick-start the construction of a new school block, the 40 iron sheets are for the teachers houses to replace the old sheets,â€ said Chilapondwa.
He said the lack of toilets, desks and good learning space can fuel dropouts among girls.