8 November 2012

Namibia: Providing Education Under Trying Conditions

A SCHOOL for San children outside Tsumeb is setting the example of “doing it yourself” if the government is not forthcoming in providing basic needs for proper education.

While teachers are striking, calling for salary increases, some schools in the rural areas are struggling to make ends meet.

These schools in most instances have to make do with donations in the absence of government assistance.

One such a school is Ludwig's Hafen outside Tsumeb, which opened its doors last year.

The school lacks classrooms for its more than 70 mainly San children. There are no toilets or running water. Because there is no hostel, children have to walk long distances from their villages to attend school.

Approached for comment about assistance to the school, the education planner of the Oshikoto Region, Gotti Nghipandulwa, said the school started with a low enrolment figure “and we thought that it would end up a white elephant for the Education Ministry. However, to our surprise, the principal organised the community and encouraged the children to attend the school.”

The school only offered Grade 1 last year with the principal, Jannie Xamiseb, as the only teacher. This year, Xamiseb added a pre-primary class and Grade 2 and appointed two teachers for the 75 children enrolled.

“This building was donated by the Namibia Breweries and our aim to accommodate children up to Grade 7 at the school. However, with the increasing number of children more classrooms have to be built and with the help of good Samaritans we are now almost completed with three additional classes and one storeroom,” Xamiseb told The Namibian.

Bricks for the building of the classroom was donated by Henning Crusher, cement by Kinderhilfe in Namibia and money for the labour by the Tsumeb Community Trust of Namibia Custom Smelters (NCS).

The Lions Club, according to Xamiseb, has also undertaken to build another five classrooms.

“The government is paying our salaries but has not contributed with regard to the construction of the classrooms. We have no toilets and water. The children have to make use of the bush and the Mannheim Research Centre brought us a water tanker for our daily use. In addition we received maize meal from the Office of the Prime Minister and parents of the children are preparing porridge for the children.”

Education planner Nghipandulwa said the ministry cannot meet all the demands at schools, but is planning to build two extra classrooms and an ablution block at Ludwig's Hafen next year.

He said the ministry also intends to connect electricity to the school and provide water for the children from a nearby borehole.

“We have other schools experiencing the same or even worse problems, especially in the northern areas, and must give attention to all of them,” said Nghipandulwa.

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