Namibia: 30,000 Drop Out of School

More than 30 000 pupils did not return to school across the country during the gradual return to classes after the Covid-19 lockdown last year, leaving without a trace, while over 3 600 schoolgirls fell pregnant during the 2020 academic year.

The minister of education, arts and culture, Anna Nghipondonka, yesterday announced that 30 665 pupils could not be traced.

She was speaking at the Covid-19 public briefing at State House.

The regions where the highest number of pupils dropped out of school are Kavango West with 4 426, followed by Otjozondjupa (3 894), Khomas (3 764) and Omusati (3 440).

Grade 11 and 12 pupils spent the most number of days in class as they only missed 53 days of school last year while the Grade 10s missed 78 days of school.

Pupils in the junior secondary classes were hit the hardest by the Covid-19 lockdown as Grade 8s skipped 114 days of class, Grades 9 and 10 missed 109 days while Grades 4, 5 and 6 were not in class for 119 days.

The preprimary to Grade 3 pupils missed 104 days of class.

Nghipondoka said 16 118 boys dropped out of school compared to 14 547 girls.

TEENAGE PREGNANCY SOS

Education executive director Sanet Steenkamp said late last year that 3 625 schoolgirls fell pregnant during 2020, double the 1 542 recorded in 2019.

She said Omusati region recorded the highest number of schoolgirl pregnancies with 562, followed by Kavango West with 522 and neighbouring Kavango East with 520.

Last year, more than 3 323 schoolgirls fell pregnant during the Covid-19-imposed lockdown from March to July.

Most of these girls did not return when schools reopened in September, because of fear and stigma, thus abruptly cutting their school year short.

"It is very upsetting that more than 3 000 families have been shattered, and more than 3 000 schoolgirls have been damaged, and their education is likely to be cut short by the men who impregnated them," she said.

"Some of these girls may never return to school due to stigma," Steenkamp added.

In 2019, The Namibian reported that 3 500 pupils fell pregnant between 2017 and 2018, leading to more than 2 000 of them dropping out of school.

A report submitted to the National Assembly showed that about 1 440 girls fell pregnant in five northern regions in 2018, while about 2 000 pupils fell pregnant in 2017.

At least 14 545 pupils opted to learn from home last year after the ministry directed that learners should not be forced to return to face-to-face learning.

This came after parents and guardians were hesitant to send their children back to school.

Otjozondjupa and Kavango West had the highest number of pupils learning from home with 3 103 and 2 759, respectively, while the Zambezi region had the lowest at only eight.

EXAM RESULTS DELAY

Steenkamp said the results for Grade 11 and 12 national examinations, written in November last year, will only be released during the first week of next month.

"We experienced a glitch with our data management systems, however, it is nothing major. Should there be a further delay, we will shift the announcement to the second week of February," she said.

At least 113 500 full-time and part-time candidates sat for the integrated Grade 11 and 12 examinations last year.

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