The E.J. Robinson Municipal School has been in the heart of the Congotown community for half a century. Since its inception, it has been a place of knowledge for pupils in primary one to six. The school has always been a beacon for learning, forming a pillar in the Congotown community. In a twist of fate, the school finds itself at a crossroads as it strives to grow beyond its current boundaries.
A lot of upstanding elders and respected members of the community went through the doors of the E.J. Robinson Municipal School.
However, over the years the school has been overcrowded with pupils, and because of this, there is a need to expand by building additional classrooms. A challenge looms large: the school’s intended expansion area has been occupied by a church (Faith Healing Bible Church). This unexpected obstacle has become a clash between education and religion.
Abdulrahman Fofanah, the deputy head teacher at the E.J. Robinson Municipal School, says that the church’s presence on their school grounds has also presented challenges and that they (the church) have frequently disrupted their daily routines, causing inconvenience and damage to school property.
“We are now facing a severe shortage of furniture. Teachers must spend valuable teaching time moving benches into their classrooms every Monday morning because the church leaves them outside after Sunday services,” he said.
Occupying the school’s land is not the only issue the school faces with the church. Prior to leasing the land from Freetown City Council, the church had been using a couple of classrooms at the E.J. Robinson Municipal School to hold its weekly prayer meetings and gatherings.
The school is in need of urgent attention, and rehabilitation, the roofs and furniture in the classrooms need repair. Most importantly, there is a need to construct new classrooms to accommodate the large number of students already enrolled in the school.
“The condition of our school buildings is deteriorating, and urgent rehabilitation is required, including repairs to the roofs and provision of furniture. Additionally, we urgently need more classrooms to accommodate the young students, allowing us to expand to a single-shift schedule,” Abdulrahman Fofanah, deputy head teacher, E.J. Robinson Municipal School.
Ayo Webber, a parent whose child attends the school said he is deeply concerned about the church’s occupation of the school land.
“I was on the school grounds when they started bringing in construction materials while the kids were having their devotion. To be honest, it left me shocked, considering the potential safety risks.”
Despite the setback, E.J. Robinson Municipal School remains steadfast in its commitment to providing quality education. The school envisions not just physical expansion but an amplification of its impact on young minds. The need for more classrooms, modern facilities, and enhanced resources is evident, reflecting the growing demand for education in the Congotown community.
Amidst the debates and negotiations, a beacon of hope emerges. Community leaders, recognizing the shared commitment to growth, initiate conversations aimed at finding a compromise. In the coming months, the fate of the school’s expansion hangs in the balance.