Overcrowded and under-resourced

Rundu's Sauyemwa Combined School has 2 463 learners and 56 teachers.

08 August 2019 | Education

Sauyemwa Combined School in Rundu's Sauyemwa location is faced with a number of challenges, with overcrowding topping the list, which has caused disciplinary issues, including teen pregnancies and alcohol and drug abuse.

On a recent visit to the school, Namibian Sun observed a situation where learners were sitting on broken chairs and sharing desks, while it was difficult for teachers to move around freely.

The school enrolled 2 463 learners this year and has a teaching staff of 56.

According to acting school principal Paul Malembu their biggest challenge is the high number of learners, while other challenges include indiscipline, a high rate of absenteeism and not enough ablution facilities and classrooms

The school, which was established in the 1970s, still does not have an administrative block and teachers have to use storerooms for their administrative duties. The school only has four toilets.

Malembu said the initial capacity of the school was 1 200 learners. However, they have accommodated double that over the years, which has affected the teaching and learning environment.

The education ministry's staffing norm is one teacher per 30 learners, which is not the case at Sauyemwa Combined School, where it is around 60 to 70 learners per teacher.

“The biggest challenge is that the school is overcrowded; now we have problems in terms of classrooms. We don't have enough classrooms to accommodate the learners. We are understaffed. The other challenge that we have is that we don't have enough learning materials to give to the learners,” Malembu said.

He said the overcrowding also results in high levels of indiscipline amongst the learners, which has a negative effect on the quality of education.

“Where it is overcrowded, good learning and teaching will not take place,” Malembu said.

Malembu said teenage pregnancies as well as alcohol and drug abuse are common amongst learners at the school.

He said the school's management knows of 10 cases of teenage pregnancies this year, but added the number could be more.

Malembu said they are in the process of disciplining a number of learners, who were caught red-handed consuming alcohol during a recent entrepreneurship day event held at the school.

Malembu said in order to address the situation, the school has established a relationship with social workers from the child welfare ministry, who occasionally visit the school and engage the learners.

Malembu stressed that more classrooms should be constructed, with adequate furniture, and that the number of teachers must be increased.

He said the school should also be well-resourced in terms of learning and teaching materials.

When contacted for comment, Kavango East education director Fanuel Kapapero said overcrowding is a serious challenge the region is faced with.

Kapapero said a number of schools, especially in Rundu, accommodate 2 000 or more learners, which means that more schools needed to be constructed in the region.

“We need more schools to be constructed to tackle the overcrowding situation,” he said.

Kapapero said a tender for the construction of a new senior primary school at Sauyemwa was recently advertised, which will reduce the burden on Sauyemwa Combined School.

Kapapero also revealed that for the past three financial years there was no budget for the procurement of school furniture.

He said schools, therefore, have to find ways to repair their broken furniture.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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