Overcrowded, zero pass rate

A San community's attitude to education is making life hard for school officials in the Oshikoto Region.

08 August 2017 | Education

The Tsintsabis Combined School principal, Erick Kheimseb, is blaming the high failure rate of his school on the community's poverty and the illiteracy of the children's parents.

He has accused parents of making it difficult to enforce discipline at the school because the parents challenge teachers in this regard.

It is alleged that parents involve themselves in the disciplinary procedures at the school, reprimanding teachers in such cases.

The school is overcrowded and parents are able to register or withdraw their children from the school at any time.

The school, which is in the Oshivelo Circuit in the Oshikoto Region, enrols over 800 learners every year, from pre-primary to grade 10, but only a handful make it to grade 11, which last year recorded a zero pass rate.

This is the only formal school in the settlement, in which the majority of inhabitants are Hai //Om San.

According to Kheimseb the learner numbers at the school fluctuate throughout the year. He said the primary school classes are the most overcrowded and some learners have to sit on the floor because of a shortage of furniture.

“At the lower primary level, we have a problem of overcrowded classrooms with a ratio of up to 50 learners per teacher. Learners in those classes are faced with a lack of school furniture making the teaching environment very difficult. The number decreases towards the upper grades. Learners drop out of school,” Kheimseb


Another source at the school reported that last week a parent had an altercation with a teacher at the school after the teacher instructed the child to get a haircut.

Kheimseb said the community is largely illiterate and only a few parents are involved in the education of their children. He said these few learners are the ones who pass grade 10.

“We are fighting a different battle here. Parents are not playing any role in the education of their children and they allow them to skip school for no reason. The only source of income here is the social grant and when this is paid out, few learners turn up for school, the rest accompany their parents to pay points and you cannot say anything. This is very difficult for us,” he said.

Kheimseb said the whole community should be educated and not only the children. Parents need to be convinced of the importance of education.

He called for the reintroduction of the adult literacy programme, saying it is the only way parents would understand the importance of education so that they would allow their children to get an education and develop their community.

“Parents in our community do not understand the importance of education. They are always disturbing the learners' concentration in school. They can register their children at any time they want and they can also withdraw them any time. This is due to their (parents') movement in search for greener pastures.”

The education inspector for Oshivelo circuit, Gideon Shikongo, confirmed that he is aware of the situation and said that efforts are under way to assist the school. He said that the school is treated as a special school by his office, education regional director's office, and regional councillor's office for Guinas constituency.

“The school's overcrowding is attributed to the successful back-to-school campaigns we always conduct in the region. We conducted this campaign in Tsintsabis area last year and the majority of the children who dropped out decided to go back. Currently we secured a sponsorship that will deliver furniture next trimester,” Shikongo said.

“We are assisting the school as region and as a circuit. Now and then we monitor how teachers are doing and how classes are going. We want learners to perform and we do not want to repeat the zero pass rates of last year. We want more learners to pass as we have advisory teachers who go there regularly.”

Shikongo said that he is aware that there are some parents who disagree with the school rules, but he is not aware of a specific case where a parent fought with a teacher.


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