CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe
IT MAY just be one of the many schools under construction in the country, but for the people of Mailo, having one secondary school in their community is not a mere statistic, but rather a dream coming true.
The advantage of the upcoming secondary school is that it will be a boarding, making it most suitable for the rural community where villages are sparsely located.
Opening the long-awaited school to pupils means there will be no need for children to walk long distances daily, to and from school.
The school will also help boost school attendance, help retain boys and girls in school and also prevent child marriages.
Although Mailo Boarding Secondary School in Serenjeâ€™s Mailo area has not yet been completed, indications are that it will be one of the modern school facilities in Zambia.
The boarding school will also cater for day scholars, and will have 13 classrooms, eight dormitories, an administration block, school hall and science laboratories.
Medium and low-cost teachersâ€™ houses are also being constructed.
The local people are elated with the upcoming school because it will be the first and only secondary school in Chief Mailoâ€™s area.
Currently pupils who qualify to grade eight face challenges in finding school places because of the absence of a secondary school in their community.
For some children, grade seven marks the end of their educational journey.
For others whose parents can afford, they are sent to far-away secondary schools such as Mupepetwe in Chieftainess Serenjeâ€™s area, to continue their education.
The people of Mailo are eagerly waiting for the completion of the secondary school so that their children can access secondary education within their chiefdom.
Construction of the school started in 2010, but to date the project, which was expected to take 95 weeks, has not been completed yet.
Chief Mailo is concerned that the project, which should have taken three years, has taken over five years.
â€œI thought when I allowed the construction of the secondary school, it was going to take a short time, but the project has now stalled,â€ Chief Mailo complained.
â€œChildren are still going to other secondary schools because we donâ€™t have a secondary school.â€
Chief Mailo informed Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga recently when he paid a courtesy call on him that he desires to see the secondary school completed and opened soon.
The traditional leader is concerned that Savenda Construction Company, which Government engaged to construct the school at a cost K26, 526, 879.45 has allegedly left the construction site.
â€œI have waited to see children graduate from this school. â€œI fear I may now not see this happening because my eyesight is getting poor,â€ Chief Mailo said.
In response, Mr Mushanga attributed the delay in completing the project to lack of funds.
He assured the traditional leader and his people that when funds are available, completion of Mailo Boarding Secondary School will be among the priority infrastructure projects in Serenje.
â€œItâ€™s pointless to start new projects when old ones are not completed,â€ Mr Mushanga said.
Mr Mushanga said it is a source of concern that although the project has reached an advanced stage, it has stalled.
The minister fears that the school infrastructure might be vandalised if it remains uncompleted for a long time. If this happens, Government will lose millions of Kwacha that have already been spent on the project.
â€œConstruction of this school has taken a long time. I will engage the Ministry of General Education and the contractor,â€ he said.
Efforts to get the contractor failed, but a caretaker at the school said Savenda Construction Company left the site in January and only a skeleton of staff has remained.
â€œIt is going to be one of the priority projects. I want to see to it that the project starts so that the school is completed,â€ Mr Mushanga told journalists.
Mailo ward councillor Patrick Munshya stressed the need to complete the school, saying pupils in the area face difficulties to access secondary education.
â€œWork at this school has stalled. The people do not know what is happening and this is why we are appealing to Government to finish the school,â€ Mr Munshya said.
He said Government must ensure that Savenda Construction Company resumes work as a matter of urgency.
He said Government also needs to rehabilitate the dilapidated Mailo and Kalela Nsomaulwa primary schools to allow children to learn in a good environment.
CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe