Pupils in God's hands

Pupils are being forced to squat in shacks without adult supervision, as face-to-face classes resumed for grade 11 and 12 learners yesterday, amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

04 June 2020 | Education

ILENI NANDJATO

OMUNGWELUME



While learners at Omungwelume Senior Secondary School squat in shacks due to an incomplete hostel, their principal has placed the situation in God's hands.

“They will be living on their own and we are just praying that nothing will happen,” principal George Nanghanda said.

Face-to-face classes resumed for grade 11 and 12 learners countrywide yesterday, except for Walvis Bay, which has reverted to level one of the Covid-19 state of emergency, at least until 8 June.

The rest of the country has moved to level three.

Education ministry executive director, Sanet Steenkamp, said in a statement yesterday that government is aware of the fear brought on by the coronavirus.

Upon returning to the Ohangwena school, learners have made the Omungwelume settlement and its surrounding areas their home, after the construction of the school community hostel failed to be completed on time.

Nanghanda told Namibian Sun the hostel blocks have been completed, but the kitchen, ablution facilities and hostel caretakers' accommodation are incomplete, and there is no more money.

Last year, government allocated N$6.4 million for the construction of the hostel, thanks to persistent pressure by former regional governor Usko Nghaamwa.



Taking care of themselves

“As a school, we will only play our part in maintaining health and safety at school, but where they are squatting, it is up to the learners to take care of themselves. We have no control,” Nanghanda said.

The school has nearly 600 learners in grades 10, 11 and 12. Over 100 learners are accommodated at a rundown property at the settlement, bought by the Ohangwena regional council.





Nanghanda said it is not safe for learners to stay at the property due to a lack of proper monitoring and inadequate health facilities, but parents have insisted that they stay there.

“The 118 learners will still be accommodated at the property because their parents say it is better for them staying there than being on their own within the settlement,” the principal said.

Fed up with learners living in shacks without adult supervision, Nghaamwa started raising funds for the construction of the hostel.

The N$7 million project was supported by government as a joint venture with the community of Omungwelume.

The project has since been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“For the boundary wall construction, we understand that the project money has been finished,” Nanghanda added.

The school admits learners from all over the region, and due to the lack of hostel accommodation, learners as young as 16 are forced to take any accommodation available.

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