Land tussle cripples learning

12 November 2020 | Education

Kenya Kambowe


Close to 300 learners at Tumweneni Primary School at Rundu are taught in makeshift structures on the outskirts of the river town, with the only seating available the bare ground or fallen branches.

The learners are exposed to the elements and have to turn to the bushes when nature calls.

This due to a squabble between the community and town leadership on whether the school is located on recognised land.

Namibian Sun yesterday visited the school, which comprises of five overcrowded structures, with Covid-19 preventative measures falling by the wayside.

No social distancing was observed, with face masks idly hanging around learners’ necks.

Meanwhile, learners who hail from the poorest backgrounds are forced to go to school on an empty stomach, leaving them unable to concentrate.

The establishment

According to teacher Ngoma Veiko, the school was established in January 2019, and offers classes from pre-primary to grade four.

Earlier this year, 278 learners enrolled, however, this number has dwindled due to the pandemic.

A majority of the learners come from Tumweneni location, an informal settlement formed when landless people illegally grabbed land at Rundu, the teacher said.

After settling at Tumweneni, the community cleared a piece of land at the heart of the settlement to construct the school, which is staffed by eight teachers. However, only three of the teachers are qualified, with the others working on a voluntary basis.

Numerous challenges

Veiko said the school is faced with numerous challenges, including the lack of proper structures, ablution facilities, chairs, tables and chalkboards as well as learning and teaching materials.

Other challenges include that the teachers and learners are exposed to the elements, which can bring lessons to a halt.

“All in all, we are experiencing hardships while offering the Namibian child an opportunity to be educated. You never know, the leaders of tomorrow are amongst these learners and we cannot give up on them,” Veiko said.

Land not recognised

While the school received a certificate of registration from the education ministry earlier this year, the Rundu town council has failed to recognise the Tumweneni informal settlement.

This according to Kavango East education director Fanuel Kapapero, who said the regional education directorate cannot assist the school until the dispute between the council and the community has been resolved.

“We know that there are learners there and we are responsible for the provision of education to all Namibians,” he said, but added that the issue regarding the land the school has been built on is holding them back.

“Once that is resolved, we will immediately move in and provide education to the learners,” Kapapero said.

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