Eleven learners were rushed to hospital after a roof of their makeshift classroom collapsed at M’buka Primary School in Lilongwe’s Area 36 Township.
The school has an enrolment of about 7 000 pupils and 22 classrooms, 16 classrooms short to ensure all pupils are sheltered safely while learning.
Head teacher Jefferson Tsamba claimed that the corrugated iron sheet roof standing on metal bars, collapsed due to ‘unruly’ children who regularly shake the structure when playing.
The roof fell on the few children who were waiting for their teacher to begin the day’s lessons.
“We are lucky that the roof didn’t inflict serious injuries on the learners. Those who were trapped under the debris were rescued and rushed to Bwaila Hospital where they have been treated as outpatients.”
This is not the first time learners have fallen victims of poor infrastructure in the country’s primary schools.
In June last year, four pupils died and 16 others were injured when a classroom wall fell on them at Nantchengwa Primary School in Zomba.
In 2003, Mkomachi Primary School in Lilongwe also had its share of horror when a tree under which learners were learning, collapsed and killed some in the process.
Sofilet Phiri, whose daughter is in Standard Five at M’buka Primary School, expressed concern over the incident, saying the situation of poorly-constructed classrooms puts the lives of learners at risk.
But Tsamba blamed the incident on trespassers due to absence of a perimeter fence on one side of the school.
He said: “We have about 250 metres of fence which we managed to build as a school, leaving out another equal distance which can cost about K10 million. If we do that then the problem of trespassers can be dealt with.
“But the lasting solution is to have about 16 additional classrooms on top of the 22 classrooms which we currently have to house about 7 000 learners which the school has.”
In his view, building additional classrooms will have multiple benefits such as all learners coming in the morning shift which, apparently, is the most effective learning and teaching shift.
School committee member Pepulani Banda also blamed children from around the community for weakening the structure by dangling on the wooden platform and shaking the metal bars supporting the roof.
According to Civil Society Education Coalition, the country has a deficit of 27 000 classrooms.