Should we have schools in prime locations in the city centre

Should we have schools in prime locations in the city centre?

Schools require big pieces of land yet land in the city is quite valuable. Depending on the number of children, a school should have adequate space for classrooms, and recreational facilities all of which require a lot of land. There has a been a debate in Uganda with some people arguing in favour of maintaining schools within the city while others say it leads to unnecessary congestion. This debate first came up in 2011 when President Yoweri Museveni authorized the giveaway of Shimon Demonstration primary school land to an investor. The school land measured 15 Areas in one of the most prime locations in the city. The school was later demolished and the prized land percelled to different investors. Today, the place where the school was located stands Kingdom Kampala, a high-end commercial building owned by city tycoon Sudir Ruparelia. At the time of give away, President Museveni had argued that schools need not be in the centre of the city.

There are several government aided primary schools in Kampala city namely, Nakasero Primary school, Buganda Road primary school, Kitante Primary School, Nakivubo Blue Primary School my, etc. A few others are a bit in the periphery of the city. Those who argue in favour of having schools in the city centre think that it’s convenient for parents to drop and pick kids to and from school when going to and from work. However progressive economists think otherwise. Prized land in the city centre should be exclusively reserved for lucrative business and commercial purposes. A school like Buganda Road primary school which is located in one the most prime areas of the city with over 10 acres of land should be safely relocated to a place on the outskirts of the city where there is vast land and less congestion. There is another view that parents should be encouraged to take their kids to schools closest to their neighbourhood to avoid traffic jams of picking and dropping in the morning and evening in schools located in already crowded places of the city.

According to UNESCO handbook “Planning the location of schools: an instrument of educational policy,” there should be school planning and a methodology to determine where schools should be located as well as school localization. There is need for what UNESCO calls school map, decentralisation and regionalization of schools to ensure every area that requires a school has one within their locality. There is need also to develop a national and regional school map to determine where schools are to be established taking into account the infrastructure needed, the population to be served, catchment area and facilities required. Educational planning will help government to build schools where they are exactly needed while offering them all the required facilities. The location of the school determines the quality of education offered. Educational planning and school mapping help clearly determine the type of education to be provided and where it should be offered using a predetermined system. We must therefore plan what we teach our children and determine what they will use the skills acquired after school as well as plan the conducive place where the learning should take place. So do we need schools right in the middle of Kampala? May be, may be not!