Disabled school director forced to live in his office, hawk sweets in Witeithie

Disabled school director forced to live in his office, hawk sweets in Witeithie

A proprietor of a private school that helps destitute students in Witeithie, Juja now resides at his office as COVID-19 continues to ravage the country.

George Mwangi, director of St Georges Cornerstone School has been forced to hawk sweets within Witeithie estate as learning institutions suffer the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic following their closure in March.

Speaking from his office which also serves as his bedroom, Mr. Mwangi narrated how he started the institution in 2015 with the aim of helping children from vulnerable families access secondary school education.

He said at that time there was no other secondary school in the area except Mang’u High School and most residents are low-income earners who cannot afford to take their children there.

Mwangi revealed that his school had also been giving students uniforms and created a policy where parents who were unable to raise school fees could pay in kind.

“Most parents living here are casual laborers and miners in quarries. They are financially incapacitated and cannot pay school fees but we have a policy whereby they can provide labour to the school to settle fees or those working in quarries can bring building bricks or ballast,” he said.

Parents who spoke to Citizen Digital said that the school was a blessing in disguise to the village as children had been used to walking many kilometers to secondary schools in Thika and Juja.

Regina Wambui noted that the school had enabled her to provide education for her three children and she remains hopeful that learning will resume in January next year.

Before President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of schools in the country to curb coronavirus spread, his school had 148 students.

However, after schools were closed he could not sustain his seven teachers and most of them left for their rural homes while others secured jobs at construction sites.

“I witnessed all of them being kicked out of their homes. It was a sad moment. Some of them have already moved on and are working in construction sites and others are in small scale farming in their rural homes,” he said.

Mr. Mwangi said that he was too forced out of his rented house in Witeithie as he couldn’t raise the house rent.

His wife, who was also a teacher at a private school, was also rendered jobless by the pandemic.

“I started a shop but the small business failed to pick and I closed it down after two months. I was forced to send my wife and our children to live with her sister in Nyeri because life here was becoming unbearable,” he said.

The 38-year-old father of three who is physically handicapped said that he has resulted to hawking sweets to earn a living.

He said on a good day he can make between Ksh. 100-200, an amount he uses to buy his food and sometimes send to his family.

Mwangi has urged the State to consider private schools in the country that have been severely affected by the pandemic and are at risk of closing permanently.

Earlier in August, the Ministry of Education announced that it was planning to give private schools concessionary loans to cushion them against the effects of COVID-19.

Education CS George Magoha announced that the Ministry would provide Ksh. 7billion to 3000 private schools.