By Donna Collins
A can of worms has been opened up on Government schools in Swakopmund, after a recent meeting was held with the Erongo Regional Councillor, Juuso Kambueshe, the Constituency Development Committee and various education stakeholders, where it was claimed that schools are “rotting from the inside”.
Following the recent familiarisation visit to the Erongo Region by the Minister of Education Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, the platform was laid to cement relationships with education stakeholders and hear their grievances, of which there are many.
Kambueshe explained that the meeting was held for all the stakeholders to familiarise themselves with the different challenges each individual school faces.
Over 20 principals and HODs turned up at Westside High School, to express their dismay at the current state of dire overcrowding in the classrooms, infrastructure decay, regular theft of equipment, lack of funds for improvements, and the pressure which the influx of learners to coastal schools is putting on the old facilities.
“We have some damning statistics, and we want to try and understand the challenges schools are facing, and to offer support wherever we can,” said Kambueshe, who is currently moving ahead with follow-up appointments with all the schools.
“We are going to make an analysis so that we can put up a development project together, to see what can be done to improve the situations in these schools. We want to come up with a clear plan on moving forward because each school has its own set of problems.”
Kambueshe said that he was dismayed at the conditions and challenges these schools are facing, and was shocked at the teacher/student ratio due to over- crowded classrooms and lack of qualified teachers.
“If you look at a school like SSS which has 11 grade eight classrooms, each with 40 learners per class, and just one class teacher it is no wonder teachers are overburdened and can barely cope.
“Government schools in Swakopmund have not kept up with the population growth, and with no upgrades since independence we are feeling it,” he added sighting an example of a school that was constructed for a maximum of 500 children, now has to accommodate 1 200 learners.
“But education is not just a pupil/ teacher relationship, and parents need to get involved with their children because the lack of support is shocking and the parents themselves are responsible for a lot of shortcomings.
“Schools are not a dumping ground for their kids and it will be immoral if we continue to ignore the challenges that the children face.”
It was stated that Swakopmund has 11 Government schools which includes six primary schools, three high schools and two combined schools, and that a total of 11 014 learners are accommodated in these schools
Meanwhile the inspector of education for the Swakopmund circuit, Ernest Olivier expressed his dismay at the critical shortage of classroom space, and other matters of concern such as children who skip school, do not do their homework, teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, as well as teacher absenteeism, rotten ablution facilities, little or no parental involvement and no funding for improvements, to mention some.
One Mondessa teacher pointed out that by children not coming to school due to the problems of society, they will fall by the way side. “If we don’t do enough for the underprivileged, they will ultimately turn to crime, which sets a worrying precedence for the country’s future generation.”
“Children are living like refugees in their own country, and we are destroying our own nation through the unwillingness to uplift their educational environment and standards,” said another.
This, and other pressing issues have been coming a long time, and coupled with the lack of Government funding available, inadequate conditions are putting the squeeze on the school system.
Grabbing immediate attention was the closure of the Namib Primary School hostel -which would cost N$1 million to repair- as conditions for the children are putrid.
The director of education in the Erongo region, John /Awaseb, has stated that parents of the 81 learners who stay at the hostel will be informed that they will not be allowed to return next year.
He said the damage to the hostel at NPS is too extensive and will be too costly to repair, as the Government grant for this financial year would not cover these expenses.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015