Taught under a tree as land dispute prevails
06 April 2021 | Education
Grade one learners at Siguruguru Primary School on the outskirts of Rundu started their school careers vulnerable to the elements, sitting on logs under a tree and taking notes on the bare ground.
The school has no toilet facilities either, so both learners and teachers have to turn to the nearest bush when nature calls.
And with winter fast approaching, the learners are sure to feel the full wrath of the cold – all in the name of getting an education.
Namibian Sun recently visited the school situated in the heart of the Tumweneni informal settlement where thousands of settlers illegally occupy land.
Established in 2018 to accommodate children from the community, at first the school only offered lessons to learners from pre-primary to grade five.
After government recognised the school in 2020, it extended its offerings to grade six.
Last year the school had a total enrolment of just 175, but this year, the number has increased by a whopping 200 new learners.
Four corrugated iron structures have been constructed by the community to cater for the learners, but the youngest are taught under a tree.
Teachers expressed concern over the situation at the school.
Currently, only six teachers are employed on a permanent basis at the school, which means the teacher-to-learner ratio stands at one to 62.
Meanwhile, about eight qualified teachers volunteer at the school hoping to be employed by the education ministry to lessen the burden on the permanently recruited teachers.
Lack of resources is another challenge the teachers have lamented, saying they are left with no choice but to rely on the little they have.
“The situation at the school is very bad. If you look at the learners, they are here to learn but the environment is not conducive. We as teachers are trying our level best to educate the learners but challenges are overwhelming us. We need solutions to our problems in order to provide quality education,” the teachers said.
At break time, learners have to buy snacks to eat before resuming classes.
The teachers said the school does not benefit from government’s school-feeding programme.
This was confirmed by Kavango East education director Fanuel Kapapero, who told Namibian Sun the reason why the school is not a beneficiary of the programme is because it was not included in the 15-day statistics for 2020.
“We did not order for the school as it is not included in the 15-day statistics for 2020 as the order for term one of 2021 was done in term three of 2020,” he clarified.
When asked whether the ministry plans to construct permanent structures at the school, Kapapero said there exists a tussle between the local authority and the community over the land, hence the absence of permanent structures at the school.
“There is still a dispute on the land between the community and the town council. So, we cannot put permanent structures there. Chairs, we supplied some. We are in the process of procuring more chairs. The school will benefit,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Rundu mayor Gabriel Kanyanga said he has no comment.