Parents on the warpath

Parents say they will not be able to afford transport money for their children who will now be forced to take taxis to and from school.

10 January 2019 | Education

Parents have expressed their unhappiness over the rollout of the revised curriculum at secondary school level, which they say has now resulted in their children being placed far from home so they can complete grade 10.

They expressed their unhappiness about the removal of grade 10 classes from community schools, saying this will make it extremely difficult for parents and learners.

Last year the education ministry abolished external grade 10 examinations and grade 9 learners will now write a semi-external exams.

Grade 10 now forms part of the senior secondary phase.

Secondary school is now divided into three phases, the junior secondary phase comprised of grade 8 and 9, the senior secondary phase comprised of grade 10 and 11 and the grade 12 advanced subsidiary level.

More than 100 junior secondary schools across the country will be upgraded to senior secondary level, which means they will have to take in grade 11 learners in 2020.

Some combined schools that had grade 10 learners will now accommodate learners up to grade 9 only, while grades 8 and 9 were removed from some secondary schools.

Eino Shonena said his daughter completed grade 9 at the Oikango Combined School in Oshana last year and has now been admitted at the Ongwediva Junior Secondary School.

According to Shonena, the new school does not have a hostel and is located about 15 kilometres from his house.

“I just do not understand this situation at all. My child used to walk to school and now I don’t know how she will be getting to school. The distance from the house to the main road where she can get a taxi is already long and on top of that getting taxi money every day is also going to be a challenge for me. I am not employed,” Shonena said.

“My child is very small and I don’t know anybody who lives near the school. This has raised my blood pressure.”

Gideon Sheepo said his child applied to be admitted at Gabriel Taapopi Senior Secondary School, but was instead placed at Kapolo Junior Secondary School.

“I don’t even know where that school is. How will the child be getting to that school? I don’t think the government knows what it’s doing. This system has frustrated us, the parents, and the learners,” Sheepo said.

Oshana education director Hileni Amukana said not all rural schools had grade 10 upgraded to senior secondary level.

“What we did is that we took schools in the vicinity and clustered them so that we could reduce the distance to be travelled by learners. We informed parents and learners early enough about this arrangement so that when they are applying they will at least choose schools near their homes,” Amukana said.

“Unfortunately many learners only applied to schools with hostels. As a region, we had to place those learners ourselves and that is what led to such a situation.”

Amukana said if parents and learners are unhappy they are free to negotiate with principals to see if there are spaces available at their schools of choice.

Last year Namibian Sun reported that teenage learners are being subjected to hunger, sexual temptation and other social evils due to them having to make do with makeshift accommodation in areas far from home, where they are able to access secondary education in Oshana.

The lack of formalised accommodation was blamed for the drastic difference between grade 10 and 12 examination results in the region, because many matric learners are left to their own devices, without the supervision and discipline found in a school hostel environment.

Most of the non-boarding schools are situated in towns and settlements that have dismal grade 12 results.

‘Valley of pain’

The grade 10 results released in December last year indicated that 20 000 learners will not be promoted to grade 11, but in 2020 these learners could, based on the results of internal examinations, be promoted.

According to available documents on the new curriculum, the pass mark for grade 10 will be 40% or an E in five subjects, including English. This is higher than the current requirements. Learners will potentially be held back in both grades 8 and 9, and once more in grade 10. Pressure in those classes will increase greatly if large numbers of learners are held back in grade 10.

In an earlier interview with Namibian Sun, Patrick Simalumba of the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED admitted there are challenges.

“It is an inevitable valley of pain we must walk through hand; we must take hands for a better future.”

According to him, the transition period will take some time, but the lack of classroom space, staff and resources are worrisome.

Currently, the available figures for the 100 junior secondary schools that will have to take in grade 11 learners next year, per region, are as follows: Erongo five, Hardap five, Kavango East four, Kavango West seven, //Karas four, Khomas three, Kunene seven, Omaheke two, Omusati 19, Oshana 15, Oshikoto 31, Otjozondjupa six and Zambezi seven.

This implies that extra classrooms and teachers will be needed.

According to a principal some construction and preparation has begun at certain schools, but the scope of this work is still unknown.

Simalumba said that in areas where schools are near each other, they will work together to fill the gaps and meet the needs of the learners.

“To secure qualified teachers for the fields of study is a challenge,” he said, adding that it was one that could last for several years.

ILENI NANDJATO

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