Quality education jaded at 'uneconomical schools'

16 July 2019 | Education

Most school-going children undertake their studies in a formal structure with access to the resources that enable their learning, including qualified teachers and adequate learning material.

For some 1 036 learners from the Kavango East Region, however, who are still taught in lean-to structures, these basic requirements for decent education remain a dream. The number comes from a total number of 57 schools in the region classified as 'uneconomical schools' by the education ministry.

One such school is Shinunga Primary School (PS) situated about 120 kilometres east of Rundu in the Mashare constituency, where learners and teachers alike have to frequently dodge snake bites, endure mice eating their textbooks and the use of bushes to relieve themselves merely to impart knowledge on learners or access basic education.

The school's principal, Karupu Sebastian Kashindereki, told this agency during a recent interview that the quality of education offered to learners at the school is being compromised as the school does not have the required infrastructure.

“We are talking about the quality of education and when we talk about quality, there must be infrastructure where proper education can take place,” he charged.

The school, established in 1992, offers education to 68 students from grades 1 to 4, and only has two teachers.

Kashindereki, appointed as principal in 2008, said when he came to the school, he only found one hut which was in a deplorable state and through his efforts, managed to seek assistance from the Kavango East regional council and managed to mobilise parents to assist with the construction of another new hut through the work for food programme.

Since then, with only one hut and an increase in the number of learners, the principal made a request to the Kavango East regional council, through the education directorate, for the construction of an additional classroom but was told that there was no money and the school had a small number of learners.

Kavango East education director, Fanuel Kapapero, confirmed the situation at Shinunga PS and other schools in the region, saying that the ministry can only construct a permanent structure at a school where a lot of learners are enrolled.

“We actually look at the learner enrolment. If it is not growing, it becomes difficult for us to put up permanent structures,” said Kapapero.

In 2018, the directorate had intentions to close down schools categorised as 'uneconomical', a decision which it reversed, noting that the ministry had observed a growth in enrolment at those schools.

Furthermore, the director said another alternative to arrest the situation, is to construct prefabricated classrooms at the schools, establish hostels in the inland to accommodate learners from smaller uneconomical schools or improve the road network in the inland to attract and retain qualified teachers, but this requires financial resources.

About 385 classrooms are needed to address the current shortage of classrooms in the region, he added. Kapapero further stressed that parents should also learn to take responsibility, giving an example of Munganya Primary School, situated about 140 kilometres east of Rundu, where parents contributed funds to construct classrooms made from corrugated iron sheets, since the learners were previously taught under trees.

There are also schools in the urban areas where learner enrolment has doubled and have taken the route to construct similar structures to address the issue, he said.

One of such schools is Ndama Combined School, located just less than 10 kilometres east of Rundu along the Trans-Caprivi Highway, which has been battling with overcrowding.

The school has a total of 2 247 pupils from grades 4 to 9, where a classroom accommodates as many as 55 learners.

- Nampa

Petrus Muronga

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