13 March 2018

Namibia: Khomas Gives More Tents to Schools

The Khomas regional education directorate has resorted to placing pupils in tents to address the shortage of classroom spaces in schools.

The education ministry's spokesperson, Absalom Absalom, told The Namibian on Friday that the ministry had acquired 40 tents, and is in the process of getting 25 more, which they will set up at schools to accommodate pupils who have not been placed yet.

The ministry has been faced with the issue of not having enough space for pupils at the beginning of the academic year for the past few years.

Absalom said apart from a small number of Grade 1 pupils still waiting to start the 2018 academic year; Grade 8 pupils are the most affected in the Khomas region. He could not say how many pupils are still waiting for spaces in schools this academic year.

"Grade 8 is the biggest problem at the moment, but the ministry is working around the clock to have the problem solved," the spokesperson said.

He added that although it is too late for learners to be without placement by now, it is "ministerial policy to accommodate every pupil, especially if it is still the first term".

"The ministry's objective is to place all pupils as early as possible into schools, if not yet placed at the beginning of the year," Absalom said.

They are also hoping to have all the waiting pupils start school in either one week, or at least in the next 10 days.

Pointing out that there are various contributing factors with the ministry accommodating the pupils late, he said the new procurement process also delayed things as it took a long time to buy the tents.

"We also have the challenge of parents looking for space for their children in Windhoek schools, while their children are already in a school somewhere else. Because of this, we do not know the actual number of children who are still not in school," Absalom told The Namibian last week.

Saima Toivo, who moved to Windhoek two years ago, said she wanted her daughter to start Grade 8 in the city this year, and has been waiting for placement since January.

She said she understands that pupils from the Khomas region may be given priority, but she believes the ministry will get her child into a school this year.

"This is now the third month that she has not been in school. But she is a bright girl, so I know she will catch up," Toivo said, adding that she nonetheless becomes worried as the days go by because that means her daughter is missing more and more school work.

Another parent who did not want to be named, said while she was positive about her daughter getting into school this year, she is starting to lose hope as "time is passing by fast".

"The other children in the house are already writing tests, and have written pages and pages of summaries. I am starting to think we must just accept that she will have to spend this year at home and go back to school next year," the mother lamented.

She added that she knows her daughter will be disappointed, but they have to face reality.

"I can see how she becomes sad when the other children in the house do their homework or come from school, but the reality is that if there is no space, there is no space," the mother said.

The woman said she also partially blames herself because she did not apply to the secondary schools early enough, and that may have contributed to her child having no school now.

The media reported in January that pupils in regions such as //Karas and Erongo were waiting for placement after some schools ran out of space.

The regional education directorates in //Karas, Hardap, Zambezi, Kavango East and West and Kunene and Omaheke have since reported that all pupils waiting for placement had been accommodated.


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