It was cosmic chaos as learning resumed in boats at Lake Baringo Secondary school, following the overflowing of the lake last year which submerged all the buildings at the school.
The school which still remains the only learning institution in the region was partially submerged in 2020 following a rise in water levels of Lake Baringo, a trend that has been experienced in several Lakes on the floor of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. With no alternative, students had to go back to the school following the directive for schools to reopen after the Covid break.
Students and parents started arriving at the institution on boats and other improvised floating devices as early as 7 am on Monday, hoping that somehow learning would resume.
Even accessing the school via boats was not easy for most of the students. “Those coming from the North of the School had an easy time, but the majority who were coming from the South had to work against strong wind and currents that were making the boats drift back. Majority had to go back home and come back in the evening.”
With more than 70 boats gathered at the school, parents were seen trying to guide students into the large boats to form what would appear to be ‘classroom area.’ Five or more boats would be grouped together to form a classroom, although it was not clear where the teacher would stand. In addition to a class monitor, a student would be appointed to be in charge of location to ensure that the classroom would not drift too far away from where the school used to be.
The Ministry of Education officials who were on site refused to speak to our reporter, but in a closed boat meeting with some parents, they were seen advising them to allow their children to fish on their way to and back from school so that they can raise money for a new school. This idea was rejected because fishing mainly happens at night, but the officers promised to seek for an exemption for the school to allow students to study at night.
Distraught, the headteacher had little words for our reporter who was trying to make the headteacher blame the Jubilee administration for the problems at the school. “We could still teach them fishing which is the main economic activity around this place. The smartest of them can learn Aquatic Science and if there is any exceptional case, we can teach them some Marine Engineering. It is a matter of making a lemonade when life hands you a lemon.”
Other teachers seemed concerned about their own safety , especially those from Central Kenya who cannot swim. In fact, apart from the headteacher, only the teachers employed by the Board of Management showed up. The rest were nowhere to be found and it was said that they were seeking transfers to other viable schools. The BoM teachers said that they were committed to seeing learning resume at the institution, albeit in boats.
It will be a turbulent year.