Snakes, mice for classmates

The education ministry says it won't be able to assist Shinunga Junior Primary School with permanent infrastructure.

07 June 2019 | Education

A rural Kavango East school is facing immense challenges, including learners and teachers having to frequently dodge snake bites, mice eating books, absenteeism and making use of the bushes when nature calls.

The quality of education is also being compromised by the multi-grade teaching system.

Shinunga Junior Primary School, a school situated about 120 kilometres east of Rundu in the Mashare constituency, sees teaching taking place in traditional huts that were constructed by parents years back.

The school was established in 1992 and offers classes from grades 1 to 4. Namibian Sun visited the school and observed its terrible state.

This follows a social media campaign in which a member of the public shared a brief description of the challenges facing the school and called for assistance.

School principal Karupu Sebastian Kashindereki said in order for quality education to take place, the dire needs of school need to be addressed.

He said the school has two teachers for grades 1 and 2 and another for grades 3 and 4.

The total number of learners enrolled this year is 68.

Kashindereki said the biggest challenge is their unconducive temporary structures in which they are expected to educate the learners.





He said when he joined the school in 2008, only one deplorable traditional hut existed, which was later dismantled. Parents then had to intervene and construct a better one.



The Kavango East regional council also assisted in the construction of the structure through a food-for-work programme.



Kashindereki said as the number of learners increased over the years, he was forced to use his own funds to construct another traditional hut, with the assistance of the parents.



“Actually what should be done in terms of the school, if we are talking about quality education, is also to have quality infrastructure. The current infrastructure is not conducive, which translates into the school's poor performance,” Kashindereki explained.



He said the school at least needs a two-classroom block.



Kashindereki added that the regional education directorate has not been forthcoming.



“I have made the request all these years, but one is always told that there are no funds,” he said.



Kavango East education director Fanuel Kapapero said the ministry is aware of the challenges being experienced at Shinunga Junior Primary School.



Kapapero said although the ministry is responsible for constructing permanent structures at schools, doing so for the number of learners enrolled at Shinunga Junior Primary School does not make economic sense.



He said it will be a waste of government resources to construct permanent structures at a school, where the number of learners are not growing, and are likely to decrease.



“We are aware that there are temporary structures at the school. We look at the enrolment of the learners and many a time we realise that the school is not growing and we cannot put up a permanent structure at that school. It might be that the learners enrolled only amount to five and then the infrastructure will have gone to waste,” Kapapero explained.



Kavango East Region is one of the regions faced with a lack of classrooms at schools where learners share chairs and desks.



Kashindereki also talked about the issue of learners having to endure the winter cold in the morning hours, saying teaching is not effective as the learners lose concentration.



Namibian Sun observed how some of the children were barefoot in class, while majority were wearing jerseys.



Most of the children do not have proper school uniforms.



Kashindereki said this was because they come from poor households.



He said another challenge was the issue of absenteeism, which was the result of parents taking their children with them to the fields, instead of escorting them to school.



“The inland school learners' parents still need to be encouraged to send their children to school. Some learners are not here today because they went with their parents to the fields. When I came this morning I even found some parents walking with their children to the fields and not to school,” he said.



On the issue of the snake attacks, Kashindereki said during summer they are often ambushed by snakes in the temporary teaching structures.



“Sometimes the learners will just start screaming and run out of the classroom, because a snake has entered. There has also been days when we enter the classroom in the morning and observe snakes in the thatch of the hut,” Kashindereki said.



He said he inspects the classrooms in the mornings in order to ensure the learners are safe.



He added the school is also facing the challenge of mice destroying the books of the learners.



Regarding ablution facilities, Kashindereki said the school has no toilet, and they all make use of the nearby bushes when nature calls.





KENYA KAMBOWE

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