In a sorry state

The region lacks a budget for school furniture, which has led to some learners having to sit on the floor in class, while others have resorted to bringing their own chairs from home.

31 January 2020 | Education

The Kavango West education directorate has vowed to tackle the challenges the region faces despite limited resources from central government, which has severely affected teaching and learning.

The region's education director Teopolina Hamutumwa made the pledge on Wednesday at Nkurenkuru during a stakeholder meeting attended by deputy education minister Anna Nghipondoka.

“We take full cognisance of the fact that despite overwhelming challenges, success cannot lower its standard to accommodate us. We have to raise our standard to achieve it, therefore we will strive to give our best amidst challenges,” Hamutumwa said.

She spoke extensively about the state of education in the region and laid bare the successes and challenges troubling the provision of quality education.

Hamutumwa explained how the fact that their budget was trimmed by N$20 million for the current financial year had negatively impacted the education affairs of the region.

She said the region lacked a budget for school furniture, which has led to some learners having to sit on the floor in class, while others have resorted to bringing their own chairs from home.

Another consequence of the limited resources was the discontinuation of security services at some schools, as well as an incomplete directorate staff complement, which forces officials to share responsibilities. She called on this to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Hamutumwa also highlighted pending projects that have formed part of the medium-term expenditure framework since 2017.

These include the upgrading of the Bravel Primary School hostel, and community hostels and teacher houses at other schools.

Hamutumwa revealed that 164 learners doing their National Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) on ordinary level in the region have erected their own structures near schools, while 673 learners are renting at nearby houses in harsh conditions. She added that 378 learners doing their NSSC on ordinary level walk more than five kilometres to and from school every day.

Hamutumwa stressed the importance of constructing at least four new hostels in the region, while existing hostels needed to be expanded to cater for more learners.

The region currently only has four hostels, which are filled beyond their capacity.

The Leevi Hakusembe Senior Secondary School hostel, with a capacity of 450 pupils, currently accommodates 719 learners, while the Himarwa Iithete Senior Secondary School hostel, with a capacity of 256 beds, accommodates 584 learners.

Hamutumwa also spoke about the issue of understaffed schools and how this negatively impacts teaching and learning.

She said the region submitted a request for 71 teaching posts to be filled in December 2019 and the feedback thus far is that it will only be granted 44 vacancies.

“Despite the fact that the region's enrolment has increased over the past four years, it did not receive the number of teaching posts requested since 2017. As a result many schools are understaffed and are unable to cope with the teaching load,” she said.



Revised curriculum

Commenting on the revised curriculum, Hamutumwa pointed out that some teachers are failing to fully implement what is required.

She said some teachers are struggling with the syllabus, subject content and the use of information and communications technology (ICT) under the revised curriculum.

Hamutumwa however said plans are in place to support teachers who have indicated that they are finding it hard to implement the revised curriculum.

Nghipondoka commended the Kavango West education directorate for producing a detailed report on the challenges they face.

She also used the opportunity to encourage the various stakeholders to have a positive mindset towards the revised curriculum.

Nghipondoka said the revised curriculum has been smeared due to a number of misconceptions, including that it will increase dropout rates and that it was not well-planned before implementation, which the deputy minister rebuked.

Nghipondoka said the revised curriculum was initiated and implemented to address the issues that affect the education system in the country.

“Some will say that the curriculum has increased the dropout rate of learners in schools, but in fact it is aimed at reducing the number of learners dropping out of school,” she said. The deputy minister called on the various stakeholders to be involved in education, in order to ensure that schools provide quality education and produce quality graduates.



KENYA KAMBOWE

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