Limits of inclusion

Spotlight on 0% pass-rate schools

22 December 2016 | Education

Nowhere has the marginalisation of Namibia’s first people been so evident than in the Grade 10 results of the Tsintsabis Secondary School in the Oshikoto Region, where all 18 learners failed the examination this year.

Figures available confirm a continued downward spiral of poor performance at the school which saw only four learners out of 14 pass in 2013, in 2014 only four of 17 passed while last year, only four of 16 learners qualified for admission to Grade 11.

When queried about the state of affairs at the school the Oshikoto deputy director of education Vilho Shipwata said the only reason he could think of is the fact that the “school is predominantly San”.

“The trend of the school has been more or less like that. It has not improved in the last year, but it is a surprise that all failed this year,” he said.

Former school principal Beatrice Kaula told Namibian Sun that all the children who “suffer” academically are sent to Tsintsabis from surrounding feeder schools.

Kaula confirmed that the school has historically performed poorly with only “one or two passing” despite interventions such as afternoon classes in the past.

She, however, argues that the poor pass rate is connected to the fact that the education system is not well accepted by the San community.

“The parents are not interested in school and you know most of the learners’ parents never even finished Grade 2,” said Kaula, who also highlighted the mushrooming of shebeens as a key factor.

She added that Tsintsabis hostel offers boarding for only 19 learners and as a result the rest are living by themselves in shacks since their parents are labourers on surrounding farms.

DTA parliamentarian Jennifer van den Heever, however, feels the blame must be put squarely on the shoulders of the education ministry.

According to her, the ministry has for the past 26 years failed to transform the system so that it can suit the needs of minorities such as the nomadic San.

“The system cannot be allowed to discriminate like this. Does it want to imply that the San children are stupid, because we do not see this kind of failure in other areas?” she asked.

Commenting on the persistent failure of the school, Van den Heever said the education ministry must explain why it has never been addressed.

“One can see no one tried to salvage the situation. It is unacceptable. I have tried the entire morning to make sense of this, but I can only believe the teachers failed in their duty otherwise one child would have passed the grade,” she said.

‘Tragedy’

Meanwhile, a speechless human rights activist Rosa Namises said the state of affairs at Tsintsabis is a tragedy.

“It is so sad. If this continues, the elders of Tsintsabis will never in their lifetime see any of their children attain success,” said Namises. According to her, the situation at Tsintsabis is testimony to Namibia’s treatment of minority groups such as the San.

“They are not regarded as important citizens of the country,” she said and added that “they do not even occupy positions”.

Poor showing

The same appears to be happening in the Himba community as the Kephas Muzuma Combined School in the Kunene Region also recorded a 0% pass rate in Grade 10.

Still in Kunene at the Otjerundu Combined School only one learner out of 18 candidates passed Grade 10.

Kunene education director Angeline Steenkamp who took up the position in September said a possible reason may be because the schools only started offering Grade 10 this year.

She also attributed the poor performance to indiscipline on the part of some learners.

“Both schools were new centres which were opened in 2016 to cater for learners in the Region who could not be admitted at schools in the region, because of non-availability of space,” said Steenkamp, adding that most teachers taught for the first time at Grade 10 level.

“However, interventions were done to assist these schools, for example textbooks were provided, learners attended holiday classes and a co-teaching weekend with experience and well performing teachers was organised, schools were visited by senior education officers and Inspectorate,” she said.

“In 2017 a thorough analysis will be done to identify the main challenges and the causes for the high failure rate, and action plans will be compiled for implementation. All stakeholders are encouraged to join hands in order to address the challenges in the region. Schools are congratulated for good performance and we have to work very hard to bring the results up to a desired level.”



JEMIMA BEUKES

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