The race for a place

11 January 2018 | Education

With the academic year for all government schools having commenced yesterday, thousands of children and parents are still waiting in queues at schools and education centres in order to secure a place for the year.

Some parents still flock to the best-performing schools in their regions hoping to find a place for their children even if they were accepted elsewhere.

To further compound matters, some parents demand that their children be enrolled at a certain school even if it is already full.

Namibian Sun yesterday visited schools in several towns and most of the best-performing schools were full to capacity but parents were not giving up, continuing to request to see the principals hoping for a miracle to happen.

Parents were seen crying, begging and trying by all means to persuade school personnel to make a plan for their child to be enrolled.

According to principal of Oshakati West Primary School, Aila Kavungo, when she arrived at school yesterday she observed that parents had slept outside the school premises in order to be first in line if there were any places available.

Kavungo said at the end of day on Tuesday afternoon, when they finished enrolling learners, 99 parents were still waiting.

“Parents are flocking to our school but we do not have spaces available. Some parents even slept here just to be assisted, but the classes are full,” Kavungo said.

She further said that due to the 350 applications they received last year for Grade 1, the school had to create a fourth class but this has not addressed the issue as a lot of people are still in need for a place.

Asked why the demand was so high at her school, Kavungo said it was because of the good performance and discipline instilled in the learners.

The situation was the same at Erundu Combined School, where parents refused to go home when they were informed the school was full.

Parents were advised to go to other schools or come back after a week, as it was possible a few learners would not turn up.

At the coast, the situation for first-graders is dire.

The director of education in the Erongo Region, John //Awaseb, says there are still approximately 1 850 Grade 1 learners that need to be placed at the coast.

According to //Awaseb 1 230 of these learners were on the waiting list in Walvis Bay with 620 learners waiting for places in Swakopmund.

“I can confidently say that we are overstocked with Grade 0 and 1 learners at the coast. There are definitely more than 1 000 learners starting with their primary school careers. We will only be able to tell the actual numbers of Grade 0 and 1 intakes for this year towards the end of the week since the schools are still submitting information to us.”

//Awaseb visited Immanuel Ruiters yesterday where a block of eight new classrooms are being constructed and said at least two more erven were urgently needed in Walvis Bay for the construction of schools. He pointed out that the ministry had already secured two erven in Swakopmund for this purpose. He also added that the primary “lower” grade levels (0-3) faced serious challenges and said there was an urgent need for qualified teachers.

“There is definitely a demand for qualified teachers. We are necessitated to make use of retired teachers and utilise candidates who are studying to become teachers.”

Narraville Primary School (NPS) principal Paul Fisher confirmed that he had accepted 50 Grade 0 and 220 Grade 1 learners for 2018. NPS is one of the largest primary schools in the region.

“Our first school day went smoothly. We have approximately 1 600 learners, 52 teachers and just enough classroom space for all our learners. Our Grade 0 learners are unfortunately still at home because we did not secure a venue for them. I am, however, looking at the issue. The ministry wanted to construct another two classrooms but could not proceed due to space constraints.” In Windhoek, the situation was not much better. Parents had arrived in droves at the Teachers' Resource Centre in Katutura. Parents who spoke to the Namibian Sun hoped to secure places for Grade 1 and 8 pupils. Sara Nangula was referred to the centre after she couldn't find placement for her daughter.

“I have been to many other different schools such as Dawid Bezuidenhout and A. Shipena but unfortunately all their classes were full. Other people were also sent away from the Teachers' Resource Centre because they could not be assisted,” she said.

Administrative staff at Eros Primary School said that the school was no longer admitting learners for Grade 1 because it was full.

Many of the parents that the Namibian Sun spoke to also opted to look for schools that they felt were better performers even though there were some spaces at other schools.

“I want my child to have access to quality education. That is why I am here at the Teachers Resource Centre,” said Margret Katjingusiua, a mother looking for placement for her daughter.


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