Dropouts: Education official wants principals arrested

04 February 2020 | Education

Oshana's deputy education director Gerhard Ndafenongo has bizarrely claimed that principals in the region should face criminal charges if they allow learners to drop out of school.

Ndafenongo said last week that the current dropout rates are not taking Namibia anywhere, as poverty will keep plaguing families.

He was speaking during a regional education stakeholder meeting at Ongwediva Secondary School, where he said education is a constitutional right.

“If a principal violates the constitution, he or she has to be reported to the police and be charged for a criminal offence like any other person. We will start enforcing this strictly and from now we need to be serious and make sure learners remain in school until grade 12,” Ndafenongo said, although there is no such offence under Namibian criminal law.

He said the region has a very high dropout rate.

“For the past three years, our enrolment has increased from 52 900 in 2017 to 54 851 in 2019, but there is a disappointment because the number of learners recorded at the end of the year is very low. The constitution is very clear that for children between the ages of seven and 16 it is compulsory to be in school. The one to make sure that these children are in school is the principal,” Ndafenongo said.

In 2017, 2 528 learners dropped out in the region, while 1 745 dropped out in 2018 and 2 084 last year. Ndafenongo said this was embarrassing.

“These are issues of national concern and are not taking us anywhere as a nation. It is only increasing the level of poverty and increasing the level of crime and unemployment. Nobody should allow a learner to leave school,” warned Ndafenongo.

He said it is equally embarrassing that the secondary school failure rate was very high.

“We are putting children in school to develop them so we empower our nation, but some are dropping out while those who complete their stay at school for 12 years are getting out with nothing. Like this we are not going anywhere,” he said.

He advised educators to come up with internal policies that need to be strictly enforced and that they should sacrifice their private time to support learners.

He also called on principals to teach the highest grade at schools and lead by example.

ILENI NANDJATO

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