Absenteeism plagues Omusati school

A small school in the Omusati Region battles to get OvaHimba and OvaZemba learners to attend classes.

08 August 2017 | Education

OvaHimba and OvaZemba learners at Otjekua Primary School in the Omusati Region either arrive at school late or do not show up at all because of traditional activities such as herding.

This is according to the acting school principal, Moses Johnson, who told Namibian Sun upon a visit last week that one of the pressing challenges they are faced with is the skyrocketing absenteeism of learners.

The school has 186 learners.

Johnson explained that the high absenteeism is due to the long distances of about 12 kilometres some learners have to travel to and from school by foot, and also the fact that some children have to remain at home to look after their family's livestock.

“The biggest challenge the school is faced with is the high absenteeism rate by learners which is a result of the cultural practices as their parents still strongly believe in culture and tradition, and also the fact that the long distances they have to travel make it more likely for them not to show up on time or at school consistently,” Johnson said.

Johnson said if there are five learners from one home at Otjekua Primary School it is unlikely for all of them to be at school on the same day. He said two or three will remain at home looking after livestock or doing household chores, while the others will be at school.

He described it as painful to see learners deprived of the education they need to progress and excel academically.

Asked what the school has done to improve the situation, Johnson said on numerous occasions the school management attempted to call parents for a meeting to look for an amicable solution but they did not show up.

“We can only solve the issue if the parents play their part correctly because culture alone will not help the children - they also need education which is the key to success.

This is why we are always telling the children to inform their parents but they do not show,” Johnson said.

Another big challenge the school is faced with is a lack of facilities such as a library, laboratories, ablution facilities and classrooms.

The school has only one pit latrine, which is used by the teachers. The children go to the bushes when nature calls.

“As you can see this is an old-fashioned toilet for the teachers, which is not motivating at all.

As for the learners, they have to go to the nearby bushes,” Johnson said.

As for the need for more classrooms, Johnson said the school was about to add a grade 7 class next year.

Johnson also raised the issue of teacher housing.

He said all the teachers live in shacks they have erected on the school premises because there is no alternative accommodation.

Regarding water and electricity at the school, Johnson said the water they are using is from a borehole and that the school uses solar energy.


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