Namibia: 90 Percent of Schools Ready for Reopening

Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture executive director Sanet Steenkamp says 90% of the country's 1 920 schools will open for face-to-face teaching and learning today.

Pupils were initially scheduled to return to class on 11 January, which was postponed with two weeks due to Covid-19 regulations.

Steenkamp yesterday said most schools in the southern regions are prepared for face-to-face classes, but some in the Kavango East and West regions, as well as the Zambezi region have water and sanitation issues, while renovations at hostels are not completed.

"So, to a certain extent, 90% of our regions ... are ready to receive children back at school," she said.

Steenkamp said during the first five to eight weeks of the new academic year will be used for revision, since pupils only attended classes for around 79 days last year.

MARGINALISED PUPILS

Steenkamp said in the two Kavango regions as well as the Kunene and Otjozondjupa regions, where marginalised communities are situated, many pupils dropped out of school.

In the Kunene region 2 240 pupils did not return to school, 4 426 in the Kavango West, 2 951 in the Kavango East and 3 8 94 in the Otjozondjupa region.

"We know the San and Ovahimba communities are very close-knit families ... There are extra efforts, like we have to [make available] transport money," she said.

NORTH-EASTERN NAMIBIA

Daniel Kapapero, the education director for the Kavango East region, yesterday said schools are not 100% ready to receive pupils, with social distancing being a challenge due to the high number of pupils enrolled.

"We will have to implement a system whereby pupils can rotate in smaller groups. The additional ablution facilities are not ready yet," he said.

Shividi Primary School in the Mukwe constituency has no chairs or adequate water supply, he said.

ERONGO REGION

Farm schools JP Brand Primary at Rooibank in the Walvis Bay Rural constituency, and Tubuses Primary School in the Daures constituency will only resume classes on 1 February due to the renovation of the school hostels not being completed.

JP Brand accommodates pupils from the Topnaar community as well as pupils from Walvis Bay who could not be placed at the schools in town.

Last week the leadership of the Swakopmund branch of the Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) was not happy with the reopening of some schools in the rural Erongo areas.

This was due to insufficient water supply, according to some union members.

//KHARAS AND HARDAP

Education director for the //Kharas region, Awabahe //Hoëseb, yesterday said all schools in the region are ready to reopen.

He said close to N$3 million has been allocated to schools in the region to procure sanitisers, masks, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

He said almost all infrastructure upgrading at hostels and schools has been completed, thanks to funds amounting to about N$45 million received from the government through the National Planning Commission in June last year.

"Contractors are busy putting the final touches to the temporary prefabricated hostel building at Ernst Jagger Secondary School at Karasburg to replace the hostel that was gutted last year," //Hoëseb said.

THE NORTH

Educators in the north say not all schools would be able to adhere to Covid-19 regulations.

Some school principals yesterday said classrooms are overcrowded, which would be a challenge.

Onesi Senior Secondary School principal Simeon Kavila said 18 classrooms at his school accommodate more than 40 pupils per class.

David Sheehama Senior Secondary School principal David Nghifinwa said most of the challenges his school faced last year have been resolved.

Eemwandi Combined School principal Samuel Samuel said most of the schools in the region may not be ready because they have not been provided with masks and sanitisers.

The Namibian understands the Omusati directorate of education, arts and culture held a consultative meeting yesterday to deliberate on the issue of school reopening.

Schools have allegedly been informed they would receive the basics within two to three weeks.

- Additional reporting by Taati Niilenge, Ester Mbathera and Lugeretzia Kooper

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