Schools reopening delayed

The return of grade 11 and 12’s learners to school is voluntary.

20 July 2020 | Education

Tuilika Andreas, Erongo chairperson NANSO, “The decision was quite abrupt and may not make provision for all the essential measures that need to be put in place.”

[email protected]

The opening of schools in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis was delayed by two days.
The ministry of education, arts and culture made the announcement on Sunday evening, two days after announcing that grade 11 and 12’s can return to schools in the three towns.
Additionally, private schools in the three towns who indicated that they are ready to reopen are allowed to do so, provided that parent consent is sought. Pro-Ed Academy was one of the schools in Swakopmund that reopened on Monday. International School of Walvis Bay as well as Walvis Bay Private High School also re-opened in Walvis Bay.
Wilmé Els, the head girl of Pro-Ed Academy explained that she has mixed feelings about the re-opening of schools.
“It’s great to see everyone, and be back at school. However, we have two weeks until our examinations start and its extremely stressful.”
The education ministry explained that after consultations with the regional governor of Erongo, the Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) and the Erongo education directorate, it was decided to delay the resumption of face to face classes.
“Amid these ongoing consultations, it has been collectively agreed that the re-opening of schools for Grade 11 and 12 in the three towns be delayed for 20 – 21 July 2020 to provide teachers, learners and parents’ sufficient time for logistical arrangements, be it at school and from home. During the next two days, parents will be required to indicate whether they would prefer to make use of Learning From Home delivery mode as stipulated in the mentioned circular, while the directorate of education, arts and culture will constantly continue to engage and facilitate strategies on teaching and modalities seeing that many concerns were raised in the Walvis Bay municipal area.”
The ministry furthermore explained that they will also explore the option of arranging official transportation for the learners to and from schools and central pick up points in Kuisebmund to assist with safe transportation. “Further modalities on teaching and learning will include possible hostel accommodation for learners and the strict adherence to health and safety protocols at all schools.”
It was furthermore explained that learners who might opt for Learning from Home should be assisted properly by their respective subject teachers through visual/voice recorded lessons that clearly explain the required basic competencies, new concepts and assessment related activities.
“School based assessment related preparation should be done as required to ensure that the learners are not disadvantaged in that area as well.”
Sanet Steenkamp, the executive director of the ministry of education explained that all the Grade 11 and Grade 12 learners are registered to take their final examinations in the National Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary and Higher Level (NSSCO/H) at the end of this year.
“It is of crucial importance that all stakeholders (the ministry of education, Erongo regional council, ministry of health and social services, unions, community, parents, teachers and learners) contribute significantly to ensure that the class of 2020 receive full support in all the required areas to make a success of their final year of formal schooling. The ministry acknowledges that indeed the road ahead might not be easy and may not be embraced by all. We wish to re-assure the nation that the safety of teachers and learners and all employees is paramount in all the decisions that are taken.”

DIFFICULT SITUATION

Learners in Walvis Bay are caught in between a rock and a hard place.
Juandro van Rooi, a grade 12 learner at De Duine Secondary School said it was high time for schools to re-open, but with the back and forth decisions its getting tougher by the day.
“The number of cases is increasing but we have to accept that Covid is now the new normal. Exams are around the corner, and we already have a month’s disadvantage compared to rest of the country's schools. There’s nothing I can do about school reopening or not, all I can do is prepare myself for the upcoming exams. Some of the content I don’t understand at all, but I am trying my utmost best to prepare myself.”
Naomi Haikera, a grade 12 learner at Duinesig High School in Kuisebmond has mixed feelings.
“I don’t have a problem to going back to school but I and majority of my fellow learners are not in the right state of mind to write exams in the next six weeks. I really want to go back but my mom is also not really comfortable with it. I do feel like our exams can be delayed so we can catch up and finish the necessary work.”

Tuilika Andreas, chairperson of the NANSO Erongo Regional Executive Committee explained that learners in Walvis Bay were unhappy with the abrupt announcement that they will be returning to school on Friday.
“We strive to ensure that all the constituents are heard and supported. This current pandemic has pushed all of us into a gruesome corner where decision making from every corner can negatively affect health. We are strongly against any form of inequality that can hamper the education of our constituents.”

“The decision was quite abrupt and may not make provision for all the essential measures that need to be put in place. We stand for the extension of examinations for particularly grades 11 and 12 in the affected 3 towns, even if they are to lapse into January, as long as there is opportunity for them to perform and apply to universities as well. The mental health of our constituents is at stake, therefore we should all come together to encourage and urge them to remain steadfast.”