MARACHA. Olivu primary school, a government-aided school in Yivu sub-county, Maracha district, has practically closed due to lack of teaching and learning materials.

According to teachers, the last box of blackboard chalk was used on Thursday last week and that there are also no manila papers and sacks for making instructional materials for teaching the over 1, 400 pupils in the school.

This follows the alleged absence of the school headteacher, Mr Philliam Candiga and his school management committee (SMC) chairperson, Mr Samuel Adriko for the last two weeks thus making it hard to withdraw the Universal Primary Education (UPE) funds from the bank to run the school.

“We don’t know whom to approach, our deputy headteacher Mr Philliam Ojama has been stopped from collecting scholastic materials on invoice from bookshops and that is why we have suspended teaching and all other school activities until money is got to run the school,” a teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity said on Monday.

Mr Yovan Ruku, the SMC finance committee chairperson of Olivu primary school described the current situation at the school as being ‘horrible’ and called officials from the district to urgently intervene.

“We borrowed drums and money from the nearby village saving groups to support the organization of Independence Day celebration but as we talk now, there is no chalk for teaching the children and that is why teachers discontinued lessons since Thursday,” said Ruku.

“We are currently worried about our children who may not perform well in the upcoming primary leaving examinations (PLE) and other promotional examinations if the situation is not addressed in time,” Ruku added.

However, when contacted on phone, Candiga claimed that he was forced by the office of the district education officer to go to his former school but declined to give more details about his absence from the school.

Mr Candiga who was posted to Olivu primary school in the first term this year has reportedly been absent from duty following administrative and accountability summon to his former school, Oliapi primary school in Tara sub-county.

Ms Florence Esaburu, a parent blamed the SMC and PTA executives of the school for failing to convene a meeting to resolve the problem of a power vacuum that has already affected the smooth running of the school.

But when contacted, Ms Flavia Osoa, the Maracha district education officer (DEO) denied the allegations of closing Olivu primary school due to lack of chalk, arguing that she was at the school early last week and no complaint of lack of chalk was raised to her.

“I don’t think that is true because last week we were in Olivu and they did not inform us that there was no chalk. We were not given that information,” Osoa said.

She added that: “Mr Candiga was supposed to go and hand over office from his previous school in Oliapi and that is why he is not in the school. We told him to go and prepare his hand over report and hand over before coming back to Olivu primary school.”

Osoa said the issue of Olivu primary school closing because of a lack of stationery is not true.

“If it is the matter of withdrawing UPE funds, in the absence of the headteacher, the deputy comes to our office and we give him an introductory letter to go and change the signatory to withdraw the money not to close down the school due to lack of chalk,” Osoa stressed.