Ongwediva — Parents of learners attending school for the first time at Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Secondary School in Ondangwa claims their children are being intimidated and robbed of their belongings within the school premises.
A woman who spoke to New Era said she took her nephew to school at the beginning of the school year when she and other parents witnessed children mostly boys being beaten up and robbed of their money.
She also witnessed the bullying squads vandalising school property, breaking lockers and smashing the windows. Out of fear, school matrons who were busy with admission also had to lock themselves up in one of the storerooms. But Oshana Regional Education Deputy Director Gerhard Ndafenongo said there were no formal complaints brought forward by the parents or the affected children.
"If we don't have a formal complaint, it is difficult for us to act. But what I know is that the school has strong leadership which is reflected by its performance. The school principal will not allow such activities to take place. I doubt such incidents really happened," said Ndafenongo.
Ndafenongo said the Ministry of Education does not condone bullying at schools and there is a clear policy on how this social scourge should be handled. He however acknowledged that Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Secondary School is one of the old schools in the country with dilapidated buildings and fence.
According to him, the condition of the school buildings will be soon a thing of the past, as it is one of the schools listed as beneficiaries of the N$3 billion from the African Development Bank meant for schools' infrastructure. At least N$100 million has been budgeted for refurbishing Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Secondary School. The parent however maintained they have indeed witnessed children being bullied by gangs made up of former pupils at the school and the current seniors. She has reported the situation to security guards at the school and members of Women and Men Network who came to the school. "We went at that school at 11h30 and we only left around 16h00. We couldn't leave because we were concerned about what will happen to our children once we leave. What we witnessed at that school is brutal, I have never seen something like that in my life, it was terrible," she said. Recalling what she witnessed at one of the oldest schools in the region, the woman who identified herself as Lovisa Iipinge said when she took her nephew to school, she was guided through the registration process by the school staff. When she reached the boys hostel where she was now supposed to have the boy admitted in the hostel, that was when she witnessed bullying committed against children who were not accompanied by their parents.
"One of the boys who were bullying others came to the room where I was told to take my nephew by the matron and started breaking the locker where another younger boy had locked his bags. I asked him why was he breaking the locker and he told me that it was his locker as he used it last year. I got angry and told him that just because he used the locker last year, it does not make it his.
He went outside and he and his friends started throwing stones, smashing the windows of the room where we were. They even started shouting at my nephew that they will deal with him once his 'zali' (aunt or mother) leaves," Iipinge narrated.
Iipinge claims she found a boy being assaulted with broomsticks by the gangs somewhere close to the school gate. Another was also assaulted outside the school.
He was rescued by teachers from Nangolo Senior Secondary School -according to Iipinge.
The lady said although she convinced her nephew to stay, another parent demanded his refund to have his child withdrawn from the school.
Some parents also complained over the radio about incidents of bullying at the same school.