20 February 2012

Namibia: High School Latecomers Locked Out

Around 218 pupils of Highline Secondary School in Windhoek's Greenwell Matongo location were locked out on Friday, causing them to start an impromptu demonstration.

The school, which has a total of 705 pupils, locked out another 249 pupils last Monday. Teachers spoke to them and thought the situation would improve, but on Tuesday 427 pupils were late. On Wednesday 360 were late.

"I spoke to them on Wednesday hoping the situation would improve but again on Thursday 352 were late and today [Friday] 218 are late," said principal Mesag Kandjii.

The school starts at 07h10.

The pupils who were late on Friday missed out on all the activities, including tests, for the day.

The milling crowd of pupils accused the principal of closing the gate too early. A pupil, who refused to be identified said, "I had to walk from Havana, and since school starts at 07h10 I got here at 07h15. This makes me five minutes late so I begged to get in, explaining my reason for being late. No one listened to me."

As they staged an impromptu protest outside the school gate, complete with hastily drawn posters, Grade 10 pupil Tjaronda Razikua said: "He [the principal] swore at us. Today he just sent us away shouting that he does not care about us. We fail to understand why he is always offending us."

The principal ignored the allegations shouted in his direction.

"We are missing three tests today," Razikua said.

Another pupil said, "He [Kandjii] doesn't care about what happens to us. Two minutes late and you remain outside, it's very unfair. We want our old principal, things were much better when he was here."

Approached for comment, Kandjii said: "They should go home and bring their parents to explain why the pupils are so late, the last learner to be locked out arrived at 07h55."

Kandjii said it was the first time he locked the gate although the late-coming has been going on for a while.

This type of behaviour affects lessons and teachers cannot start on time.

"The school's starting time is 07h10 and teachers complete an attendance register at 07h20. This therefore means the information provided at the office is wrong. Plus, the first lesson is always affected," the principal said.

"What angers me even more is that some parents make sure their children arrive on time. These learners are unable to attend classes or write any tests because the teachers postpone tests if a class only has an attendance of 10 learners.

"I am therefore appealing to the parents to ensure that their children make it to school on time."

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