A hostel accommodation paradox

24 November 2020 | Education

Elizabeth Joseph



KARASBURG

On 20 November 2019, the Ernst Jager Combined School girls’ hostel in Karasburg was ravaged by a fire that broke out on top floor of the building.

Learners were forced to vacate the hostel as it was too damaged to continue living there.

Less than four months later on 16 March 2020, another fire broke out on the top floor of the boys’ hostel, again forcing boarders out of the facility.

There now is a lack of hostel accommodation for grade 11 learners in Karasburg since the hostels have yet to be renovated.

At the moment, the government hostels of Lordsville Secondary School are undergoing much-needed refurbishment in hopes that these could help accommodate some of the boarders that were forced out.

Accommodation struggle

Currently, the grade 11 learners of both Ernst Jager and Lordsville are being accommodated with the grade 11 and grade 12 learners of Karasburg Combined School in the school’s hostel.

“There would be no space available at those government hostels for the boarders of Ernst Jager Combined School and Lordsville Secondary School once all the hostel dwellers of the other grades of Karasburg Combined School would return for face-to-face teaching,” Awebahe Johannes Hoeseb, the regional director of education, arts and culture for the //Karas Region, said.

The process of building temporary hostel facilities on the premises of Ernst Jager started in mid-August this year, and are expected to be completed by January 2021. These will be used accommodate the boarders until the hostels are renovated.

An amount of N$2.8 million was availed by the education ministry for the setting up of the temporary structures.

The majority of the learners who make use of the Ernst Jager hostels hail from Komsberg, Warmbad, Ariamsvlei, Noordoewer, Aussenkehr, Aroab and farms as well as communal areas in the Karasburg East and Karasburg West constituencies.

These learners would thus be guaranteed access to basic education simply through being accommodated in the hostels, even if only on a temporary basis.

No financial means

“Given that they resort in the category of poverty-stricken, socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, these learners' parents, guardians and/or caregivers may not have the financial means to arrange private accommodation for their children.

“The end-result would be that these learners might eventually drop out of school prematurely,” Hoeseb said.

Aletta Rooi, a parent from the Satco informal settlement near Karasburg whose children attend school in Karasburg, said the situation has left several parents feeling hopeless.

“Parents now have to scatter around and look for accommodation for their children. Some have even resorted to hitch-hiking with their children in the morning and when schools end at 13h00 to and from Karasburg,” she said.

Transport conundrum

Parents have called for the provision of official transport for learners, but were told such an arrangement is not possible.

“The education of their children is a co-responsibility that they as parents should carry by making sure that their children report for schooling,’’ Hoeseb said.

He further urged stakeholders in education to provide financial support for the procurement of prefabricated structures.



The prefabricated temporary hostel facilities at the Ernst Jager Combined School in Karasburg.

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

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