22 January 2013

Namibia: Grandparents Fail to Keep Orphans From Vision School

Oshakati — The Omusati Regional Education Office had to request the assistance of social workers and police to ensure that two orphaned boys attend Grade 8 at the posh Vision School, which opened recently.

The Vision School was established at Divundu in the Kavango Region to provide the best secondary education to bright learners from economically disadvantaged families.

Drama unfolded on Wednesday after guardians of an orphaned boy from Omukondo, a village in the Okahao Constituency, tried to prevent him from attending the school.

Omusati Regional Education Director Anna Nghipondoka said she had to call the office of the regional police commander to come to the aid of the 12-year-old boy, whose guardians were determined to keep him from attending the newly established school of excellence.

The 12-year-old lost both his parents and was raised by his paternal grandfather and his step-grandmother. His mother's relatives are said to reside in Angola. In fact, he had just returned from a funeral in Angola when his step-grandmother and her daughter informed him that they would under no circumstances allow him to attend the school.

The reasons for their opposition to him attending the school remain unknown. The boy was part of a pioneer group of 18 outstanding and deserving learners in the region, who were selected to attend the country's first ever Vision School. When the regional education office learnt about the situation a team of officials, including a social worker, was sent to go and reason with the family and to persuade them to allow the boy to go to Divundu, where the school is situated.

"But the step-grandmother and her daughter refused to let the boy go to Divundu. They said they won't let the boy go, come what may. And they were not giving reasons why," said Nghipondoka.

In fact, in an attempt to prevent the boy from leaving, the daughter of his step-grandmother hid his birth certificate, before sneaking out of the homestead and switching off her mobile phone.

Nghipondoka had to call the police to intervene on behalf of the boy. After learning about the predicament a half-aunt of the boy eventually went to her father's house with the social worker and they managed to persuade the elderly couple to allow the boy to go to Divundu.

This happened before the police could get to Omukondo. Education officials took the boy with them and he spent a night at the house of a senior education officer.

Meanwhile, social workers were also sent to another homestead, where another 12-year-old boy was too emotional to leave his grandparents.

According to Nghipondoka, the boy was too sad to leave his grandparents on Monday, and remained with them as his cohort of 16 learners proceeded to the much-coveted school.

"Both boys were finally allowed to leave by their grandparents and they parted in peace. In fact, the half-aunt of the boy from Omukondo came today to our offices to see off her nephew. Instead of taking only one trip to Divundu, we took two trips ...," said Nghipondoka.

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