10 August 2012

Namibia: Kavango Village Denied a School

Nkandi West — The nearest school to Nkandi West village is a day's walk. The closest school to the village is the Mbambansi Junior Secondary school, which is an 11-kilometre walk. It would take children about a day to walk to, and returning from, school, villagers say.

Most children born and raised in Nkandi West, some as old as 13 years, have never attended school.

Villagers this week accused the government of denying their children access to education, despite their pleas since independence.

They claim the Ministry of Education told them a borehole for water must first be sunk before a school is built. Nkandi West is some 140 kilometres southwest of Rundu in a remote area of the Kahenge Constituency.

Parents claim that the government, specifically the Ministry of Education, has turned a blind eye to their demands to establish a primary school in their area.

During a visit by this reporter to the village on Wednesday, parents and children were anxiously waiting under a tree to express their unhappiness over the absence of a school at their village.

To drive home their anger, the children composed a song directed at President Hifikepunye Pohamba, which partly said "President Pohamba, please look at how your children are suffering without education in your country".

Nkandi West Village Development Committee (VDC) chairperson, Titus Siviro, told Nampa that not one of the children born at the village have ever been to school.

What puzzles the villagers even more is that the regional education office opted to convert a thatched hut structure that community members built themselves, to serve as a pre-primary classroom, into a literacy classroom for the elders, instead of using it as a formal school for children who are the country's future leaders.

Nampa has reliably established that the regional education office rejected the villagers' request for a school until a borehole for water was drilled in the area.The nearest water point is 11 km away.

In addition to the absence of a school, Nkandi West also does not have a clinic. The sick are forced to walk about 13 km to the nearest healthcare establishment, the Mburu-Uru clinic.

Kahenge Constituency Councillor, Joseph Sikongo, said he was aware of the villagers' complaints, noting that it is unacceptable to see young children unable to attend school in an independent country.

Sikongo said he has also forwarded the villagers' concerns to the relevant authorities, mainly the Rural Water Supply Directorate and regional education office, to establish a borehole and a school and blame them for having failed to attend to the villagers' outcries.

Nkandi West village consists of more than 35 homesteads, with about 100 children.

Nampa has been trying to get a comment from Kavango Regional Education Director Alfons Dikuua since Wednesday, but he could not be reached.

Romeo Muyunda, the Ministry of Education's Public Relations Officer based in Windhoek, told Nampa yesterday he was not aware of the issue. He referred this reporter to the regional director of education.


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