Govt to dish out N$160m to church schools

29 April 2021 | Education

KENYA KAMBOWE



RUNDU

Government will avail subsidies to the tune of N$161 million towards private schools owned by churches as a means to help them meet their needs during the 2021/2022 financial year.

This is according to education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp, who yesterday confirmed the figure, saying only church schools the state has an arrangement with will benefit.

This arrangement emanates from a memorandum of understanding (MoU) dating back to 1990.

Steenkamp was responding to a media enquiry on whether government has made budgetary provisions to the over 200 private schools in the country which have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as far as enrolling and maintaining learners is concerned.

Some private school principals - who spoke to Namibian Sun on condition of anonymity - shared their dissatisfaction regarding the fact that some private schools continue to be subsidised by the state at the expense of taxpayers while others are left out.

“We are just relying on the monthly fees from parents and you know the state of the economy, it’s tough. Teachers have to get paid and sometimes parents are not able to pay on time or they skip a month. If you decide to send kids home, it does not solve the problem,” a source said.

“If government can just see what role the private schools are playing and assist us a bit. We don’t need all expenses paid; we are really struggling.”

Nothing for others

Steenkamp, however, explained that government will remain committed to the church schools, adding that there is no budgetary provision for non-qualifying private schools.

“The church schools are those whom we have relationships with and invested heavily in before independence. So, what government did was go into an agreement with them and we are paying teachers’ salaries and - in many cases - support staff,” she said.

“So, for the year 2021/2022, we are budgeting an amount of N$161 million for all salaries. That is inclusive of two schools which are not church schools, which the government took over from the South African government in Walvis Bay. We also pay them.”

Steenkamp said the moratorium following last year’s assistance to schools is still in force, as it was explained that the once-off grant payment to all schools has not been budgeted for, and therefore no funds will be rolled out this year.

“The grant which we gave them last year, we indicated that it was a once-off grant. This year, regrettably, we do not have a budget for that,” she said.

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