6 November 2018

Namibia: Learners Resort to Open Defecation

T.H.F !Gaeb Primary School pupils in Khorixas have for the past three years been using the riverbed to relieve themselves that is also a haven for dagga smokers, because their school does not have toilets.

The riverbed these learners use borders their school and Welwitschia Junior Secondary School and is infamous for its frequent visits by cannabis smokers who use it to smoke the prohibited weed.

The primary school is home to 476 pupils who are relieving themselves in the nearby riverbed when nature calls, however teachers use the two toilets reserved for them situated nearby the principal's office.

According to acting principal Elizabeth Geises who also doubles as Khorixas mayor, the school has dysfunctional toilets that remain blocked. "The toilets were fixed on numerous occasions but nothing changed. We strongly believe that trees' roots have penetrated the sewerage system," Geises told New Era last Friday. The acting principal also said she is concerned about the safety of pupils as snakes and insects might bite pupils, and added: "It's unsafe as the pupils' lives might be endangered as one does not know who might be lurking behind the trees or the riverbed," in reference to dagga smokers. In a letter dated 28th September 2018, seen by New Era and addressed to Kunene regional council chairperson Julius Kaujova and Khorixas constituency councilor Elias /Aro Xoagub, Geises wrote: "With reference to the verbal communication we had during the visit to the honorable Minister of Education (Katrina Hanse-Himarwa) in August 2018 in Windhoek. In my capacity as the acting principal and as the mayor of Khorixas town, I am humbly requesting for financial or in kind assistance to renovate our school toilets urgently. These conditions were previously brought to attention of the department of works several times via the office of the Director of Education... ."

Geises revealed the main problem could be the blocked main sewerage system of the school that must be replaced. "As we are a small school we cannot afford to buy necessary material to renovate our learner's toilets," Geises noted, and requested the Kunene Regional Council to assist as a matter of urgency.

"We are relieving in the riverbed and although it's scary, it's the only place for us. What must we do as our toilets are closed for years now?" said a female pupil. This reporter also saw several pupils trekking to the riverbed to relieve themselves when nature called.

Deputy director of education, Alwina Sofia !Aibes, said: "It's unlikely we will attend to it this year but we have written to our partners to assist us."

The deputy director also said the issue of ablution facilities is experienced throughout the whole region and that some schools that were built do not even have ablution facilities. !Aibes said she will send some officials on Monday (yesterday) to visit the T.H.F !Gaeb Primary School to assess the situation.


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