Teaching in hazardous huts banned

Bitto Primary School may no longer teach their learners in huts but, there are no classrooms to replace them.

12 March 2019 | Education

The Zambezi education directorate has issued a directive that bans Bitto Primary School from making use of dilapidated huts as classrooms.

Community members have expressed concern over some learners at the primary school in the Sibbinda constituency receiving lessons in the dilapidated huts, which are a health hazard for both the learners and teachers.

A community member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that teachers and learners are exposed to too much dust, as the huts do not have concrete floors, adding the only ventilation point is the door.

“The situation in the classrooms is very bad, because learners and teachers can come clean to school, but they will leave looking white, as if the classroom was a playground,” the source said.

“These classrooms are without windows, meaning that the only air in the classroom comes through the door, which is not good at all for the learners and teachers.

“Too much dust can be very dangerous for the health of the learners. How does one expect learners to do well if they are exposed to such inhumane conditions?” the source added.

Namibian Sun understands that the traditional huts were built by the community in the 1990s.

Zambezi education director Joy Mamili told Namibian Sun that in order to address the issue at Bitto Primary School, her office issued a directive which stopped the school from making use of the traditional huts as classrooms.

Mamili said due to the increased enrolment at the school, it has opted to make use of the classrooms.

Mamili said her office has been aware of the issue for many years, saying this resulted in the construction of two classroom blocks, which were completed and handed over in 2016.

“Yes my office is aware of the situation. It is because of this awareness that two additional classrooms were constructed and handed over to the school in 2016, but due to the increased enrolment, the school resorted to using the dilapidated buildings,” Mamili said.

She added the directive was that the school remove the learners from the classroom and consider multi-grade teaching while it waits for tents.

Mamili said her office will liaise with the constituency councillor's office about the possible construction of classrooms through a food or cash project.

She said they will also mobilise the business community to assist with the construction of classrooms through the Friends of Education in Namibia Special Initiative (FENSI).

Mamili said the classrooms in the region will never be enough, because of the increase in number of learners at schools.

“Classrooms will always not be enough due to the fluctuating and increase in the learner population. What my office has done is to request education inspectors to submit their schools' needs in terms of infrastructure,” Mamili said.

“We are still appealing to the business community countrywide to come on board and assist the ministry with the construction of classrooms.”

Mamili said for the 2018/19 financial year, the Zambezi education directorate received a budget of about N$3.8 million for renovations and N$6.9 million for basic education facilities, adding that to date the directorate has constructed 22 classrooms in 11 schools, benefiting a total of 770 learners.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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