Jigger infestation in Butere schools a big concern

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Jiggers have infested a number of schools in Butere Constituency, Kakamega County adversely affecting academic standards.
Teachers from the various schools, mostly primary, said learners were skipping classes and dropping out altogether as they were unable to walk and concentrate.
Spot-checks by Education News established that many of the affected schools had earthen floors.
“Jigger infestation has been a big headache for us in the past few years which is taking a toll on our academic performance because of chronic absenteeism,” said Joan Kweya, the deputy head teacher of Buyoka Primary School.
She said some of the pupils absconded school because they felt that the institutions were unsafe for them.
“The learners feel that they were infested by the jiggers in school and, thus, opt to keep off on a number of days. Others disappear altogether,” she added.
The school managers said smearing the classrooms with cow-dung had become a major challenge because it was unavailable.
“We always rely on the pupils to bring in cow-dung for maintenance of the classrooms but many say they can no longer find it in their homes. So we just sprinkle water and sweep. But this has not remedied the situation,” said Barbra Nandwa, the deputy head teacher of Shitsitswi Primary School.
The schools said they had made several appeals to the area Constituency Development Fund committee to help by cementing the floors in vain.
“Some of the pupils still sit on the earthen floors due to lack of desks which worsens the situation because the fleas access their bodies easily,” said Ms. Kweya.
“There was a case in July last year where one of our pupils was so ravaged by jiggers that she could not even walk or write. When we tried looking for her, the parents said they could not afford means to ferry her to school. She has never returned since then,” she added.
A section of local leaders said it was an irony that a number of schools still had mud walls and floors yet Butere had produced the first Governor of Kakamega who had also served as their Member of Parliament and a Cabinet Minister.
“It seems that there has been a deliberate policy to neglect some parts of Butere over the years. No one out there can believe we are still battling jigger menace in this constituency due to mud floors,” said Boniface Ngashila who is engaged in battling the infestations.
He added, “Academic performance has remained low in a number of schools because of jiggers and poverty. That is why we have also introduced lunch programmes in some learning institutions so as to keep the learners in school.”
Butere MP Tindi Mwale was not available for comment as his phone went unanswered. He did not also reply to our text messages.
By Denis Lumiti

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Education News - Newspaper Vol 281