Rundu — Hundreds of learners at Ndama Combined School in Rundu have had to endure the discomfort of sitting on the floor for their lessons in various classrooms and grades, especially for Grades 4 to 9 because the school whose classes are also overcrowded does not have sufficient classroom desks.
Teachers at the poorly-resourced public school are also said not to have an office and they use classrooms when students are not in attendance to convene staff and other meetings.
The school currently has 3,089 learners which has turned into an overwhelming situation as classrooms, chairs and desks are not enough to cater for their demand. According to the school, the directorate of education has been informed of the situation through official communication but the directorate has time and again communicated that it is unable to do anything about the situation as finances are stretched to the limit within the education ministry.
New Era visited the school and met with the acting headmaster, Jacinto Zombo who spoke freely despite the risk of being victimised by the directorate for sharing information with the media. He spoke out about the lack of resources at the school.
"Yes, we have big problems affecting teachers and learners at our school," he confirmed.
"The school's population has also increased from 2658 learners in 2017 to 3089 learners this year but we are now split, grade 0 to 3 is a different school but still operating in the same premises. From grade 4 to 10 there are 1958 learners, grades 4 and 5 are now having a platoon system where some learners are taught in the morning and some in the afternoon and it's the same on the junior primary section of the school," he added.
New Era has been informed by the community of the school's challenges and decided to go and observe the situation. Just as one enters the school yard, learners can be seen sitting on the floor facing the chalkboard or the black board as some refer to it. The other challenge is the teacher learner ratio, in some classes there are 74 learners in a class which is only supposed to have a 35 to learners per teacher, but that is not the case at Ndama.
"The directorate of education is aware of our situation, but we are told there's no money due to budget cuts. However, we must continue teaching even if it means learners are sitting on the floor, we cannot send them back home. We continuously write to the directorate regarding our needs," Zombo noted.
"We have a serious shortage of teachers, chairs, desks and we face many challenges. With the increased number of learners, we need to split them into more classes to meet the learner teacher ratio, unfortunately it won't work as we don't have classrooms where we can place them and no teachers for them," he added.
The school also has few toilets and those few toilets flow into an overflowing septic tank as they are not connected to the town's sewer system. This is a serious health challenge when one takes the school's population into consideration. "Imagine 3089 learners making use of only four toilets," said Zombie.
While at the school a New Era journalist spotted some learners sitting on top of desks because they do not have classroom chairs.
Just like Name, many schools in Rundu are facing shortages of classrooms, classroom furniture and teachers amongst many other challenges hindering education at the town of Rundu.
New Era tried to get hold of the director of education in Okavango East, Faunal Kipper for a comment but he was unavailable by the time of going to print.