Relief for Fransfontein kids

27 February 2018 | Education

Parents, school and regional authorities have joined hands to restore dilapidated conditions at a primary school hostel near Khorixas.

In January, the ministry of education confirmed that they had jumped into action after the “deplorable conditions” at the Frans Frederick Primary School's Fransfontein hostel outside Khorixas were made public.

Permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp confirmed last week that following a site visit to the hostel in January, a meeting with relevant stakeholders, including parents and school management, took place on 16 January to address the run-down hostel conditions and pave the way forward. The meeting concluded with parents committing to donate mattresses to the hostel, where many of the learners had slept on spring beds amidst torrid and run-down surroundings. “True to their word, parents and community members donated the said items coupled with those provided for by the ministry which were found in the storeroom.” Parents also pledged to clean the hostel, the ministry stated. On the ministry's side, a site inspection and a bill of quantities was conducted to determine the best solution and the financial implications for the rehabilitation of the school and hostel.

Two of the four hostel blocks will be renovated, and an amount, not specified, was set aside in lieu of this by the Kunene education office. “The procurement and advertisement call for bids to renovate the hostel is subject to approval from the procurement committee who at the moment have the documents,” the ministry confirmed last week. Moreover an instruction was given for the directorate of education to profile all hostels in the Kunene region to assist with finding donors for future renovation projects.



Education bumps and bruises

In January, photos shared widely on social media, depicted the severely neglected conditions in two of the four hostel blocks that were in use by students.

The photos unveiled old spring beds without mattresses, broken windows and ceilings, dilapidated washrooms and toilets as well as peeling walls. Serious concerns about sanitation and health at the hostel were raised.

A site visit found that two of the hostel blocks that were used to accommodate the male and female learners, would require major renovations. Two unoccupied blocks, which had stood dormant for 10 years, would require less costly renovations.

At the time, school principal Naftalie Goraseb confirmed the conditions and said many of the approximately 200 students slept without mattresses, although parents were requested to supply them, a cost they could not always meet. However, during the site visit, inspectors located new beds and mattresses that were locked in a storeroom, that were never distributed to the learners. An immediate instruction was given to supply the students with the available bedding.

Former pupils of the school pointed out that the hostel was built in the early 1980s and has not been renovated since then.

Steenkamp in January stated that conditions at the hostel are “certainly not an isolated case and the ministry acknowledges that more funding should be allocated towards our infrastructures that are in a dilapidated state.”

She noted that the ministry was also aware of the Outjo Secondary School girl's hostel and the Opuwo Primary School hostel that needed renovations. She said for 2017, N$53 million was allocated for renovations to the regions, whereas in 2018, N$55 million was allocated to address maintenance and renovations.

JANA-MARI SMITH