Unions suspend lessons at Kavango West school
Sanitation problems at a school in the Kavango West Region have prompted the teachers' and students' unions to order a stayaway.
14 July 2020 | Education
Unions representing teachers and students yesterday ordered their members at Leevi Hakusembe Secondary School in the Kavango West Region to go home because of sanitation problems.
Just three weeks ago, education minister Anna Nghipondoka visited schools in the region and said she was impressed with their preparedness to resume classes.
The school's hostel, built in the late 1970s, is designed for 430 residents but has accommodated between 1 000 and 800 learners in recent years.
Currently the hostel accommodates 833 learners, which puts pressure on the sewerage system, and its dormitories are overcrowded.
Yesterday morning, 381 grade 11 and 12 learners and their teachers were ordered to go home by the Namibian National Students Organisation (Nanso) and Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu).
According to the representatives of the two institutions, they ordered the suspension of classes because of “inhumane” conditions at the hostel and teachers' houses, where sewerage problems occur regularly.
The school's hostel consists of six blocks, each of which has four toilets and showers.
The facilities at four of these blocks are out of order, though, as are the toilets at the school's administration block.
Nanso's Kavango West regional coordinator, Stefanus Kudumo, said the union visited the school last week Thursday in response to complaints from its members.
“How can close to 400 people share three toilets and showers? Sewage water is flowing everywhere and children are stepping in it,” Kudumo said.
“Forget about the coronavirus, these children and teachers are exposed to diseases such as hepatitis E and cholera. We say the health of our members comes first.”
Kudumo said he informed the school management and the Kavango West education director, Teopolina Hamutumwa, that the union would withdraw its members from the school if the problem was rectified by yesterday.
“I wrote a letter to the director in which we outlined our findings and recommendations. It appears that they did not listen to us and therefore we called on our members to go home. We now give them seven days to rectify the situation,” Kudumo said.
Nantu's Bunya Circuit chairperson, Jonathan Martin, said he also visited the school last Thursday and because of the situation there, the union had no choice but to inform its members to stay home until the matter is resolved.
According to the school's principal, Alexander Kudumo, the problem is not new and has been reported to the regional education directorate several times over the years, but no permanent solution has been found yet.
Kudumo said a contractor was appointed by the regional office who occasionally repairs the drains but it's a fix that lasts only about two weeks.
When contacted for comment, education director Hamutumwa said she had only heard about the sending home of learners from Leevi Hakusembe Secondary School from the media.