New Era (Windhoek)

25 March 2011

Namibia: Schools Flooded

Oshakati — Teaching was suspended indefinitely in at least 120 schools in the four northern regions because the institutions are now flooded.

Recent heavy downpours caused flooding at numerous schools endangering the lives of school-going children on a daily basis.

The total figure of the affected schools could be much higher as the figure of 120 schools is based on data compiled only on Wednesday.

The affected schools are in the regions of Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omusati.

Omusati has more schools affected by the floods as by Wednesday the figure stood at 55 schools, followed by Ohangwena with 35 schools, Oshana 18 and Oshikoto 12 schools.

While some schools have been completely cut off by water, making it difficult for them to be accessed, some are worse off as the classes and school grounds are under water.

This has made the situation more difficult as children, mostly Grade 10, are unable to camp at schools. Among such schools are Okatana and Oikango Combined Schools. where classes and school grounds resemble a swamp.

Although most of the affected schools are combined and primary schools, Shituwa Senior Secondary School in Endola Circuit of Ohangwena Region, was also not spared by the floods.

The school that has a tented hostel has since suspended classes. Endola is one of the worst affected areas in the northern regions.

Mwadikange Senior Secondary School, also in Ohangwena Region, and Onesi Senior Secondary School in Omusati Region, are also affected but the two regional leaderships separately found solutions to their problems. Oshigambo High School in Oshikoto Region is also one of the severely affected schools.

All three schools had girls' hostels affected by water.

At Oshigambo the girls' hostel has been cut off from the rest of the school by a flooding river, while at Onesi and Mwadikange the girls hostels were flooded.

The Education Deputy Director for Omusati Region Loide Shatiwa said schoolgirls at Onesi Senior Secondary School were moved from the old hostel blocks that are affected to the newly built hostel blocks. Shatiwa added that the education regional office also asked the Haudano Senior Secondary School in Okalongo to accommodate over 80 day-learners that were renting at local flats that are now under water.

Shatiwa said her region has not yet recommended that learners be accommodated in tents because it is almost impossible as many schools are flooded.

Ohangwena Education Director Sanet Steenkamp said about 16 000 learners from 35 schools in her region will not attend classes for an indefinite period of time.

Steenkamp said the number could increase as 64 schools in total are affected. As heavy rains and floods continue in the region, more of such schools are likely to close down.

She said at the moment, some schools have only suspended grades one to six while older children are still attending classes.

In Oshana Region, Deputy Education Director Immanuel Aipanda said some of the affected schools have been shut down completely while others have been given tents.

Oshana Region earlier planned to keep classes going in the region in spite of the flooded schools by providing tents and food.

Aipanda however said the arrangement would no longer work at some of the schools as classrooms are also flooded. He however said if there are schools that are willing to continue with classes by camping at their school grounds the ministry is ready to provide them with the tents as well as food.

Oshikoto Regional Director Lameck Kafidi in contrast, maintained that his region has no plan to host schools in tents because the whole of Oshikoto Region is soaked by rain water and not by floods like other affected regions.

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