25 February 2013

Namibia: Rural School Without Toilets for Years

MORE than 400 pupils at Jack Francis Primary School at Fransfontein are relieving themselves in a public open space. They say the toilets at the school stopped functioning eight years ago.

When The Namibian visited the school boys and girls were seen relieving themselves behind the unused toilet building and the area was littered with faeces.

"We relieve ourselves here as there are no toilets at the school," one pupil told The Namibian.

The teachers' toilets at the school are not functioning either and teachers go home when they have to use the toilet. The teachers' toilet building is surrounded by pools of sewage.

"It's a serious health threat and this matter needs to be dealt with urgently," school board chairperson Titus Kaumunika said angrily. "It's unhygienic for girls to sit and urinate in public open spaces. They can get infections."

The school needs renovation. Besides the broken toilets the roofs are leaking and classrooms are flooded when it rains, Kaumunika said.

He urged the education authorities in the Kunene Region to look into the problems at the school, as the health of pupils is at risk.

Principal Ben Xamiseb said the matter had been reported to the regional office years ago but refused to elaborate on the situation.

Bernadette Jagger, deputy director of education in the Kunene Region, denied that the complaint had been reported to her office.

"If it was registered with us then the planning department would have investigated it long ago," she said.

Jagger said the regional management, advisory teachers and inspectors regularly visit schools and complaints can also be submitted to them.

"We don't want to hear problems from the media, schools must share it with us first," Jagger said.

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