Vulnerable and alone

Child-headed households are fuelling school dropouts, social experts say.

19 July 2019 | Social Issues

After an initial projection in 2008 that there would be 250 000 orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 15 by 2021, President Hage Geingob announced during his State of the Nation Address in 2018 that the government had 344 000 of these children on its books.

With an estimated 344 000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) across the country, increasing numbers of pupils from child-headed households are dropping out of school.

According to social activist Rosa Namises there appears to be very little political will to address the issue.

“Government is doing very little; the only thing they are doing is to take children to the Namibia Children's Home or to SOS Children's Village, but these are only temporary solutions,” she says.

Although she commends the new Children's Act, which has reviewed adoption procedures and makes provision for kinship care, she says people's attitudes are a problem.

Kinship care is the care provided by relatives or a member of a child's social network when a child cannot live with his or her parents.

Namises believes Ubuntu has died and people are no longer willing to take care of other people's children, let alone troubled children.

According to the executive director in the ministry of education, arts and culture, Sanet Steenkamp, child-headed households remain a huge challenge. She emphasises that not all vulnerable children are receiving social grants, and that orphans often have to fend for themselves.

She says more and younger children are taking up the responsibilities of adults in caring for their siblings.

“Just the other day at a United Nations Partnership Framework the issue of child-headed households came up. You have various factors that contribute,” Steenkamp says.

According to her this is driven by many factors, including migration, where parents leave their children behind to find jobs elsewhere.

Another factor is HIV/Aids.

“Many years ago, the HIV rate was very prevalent. It has increased again in Namibia, and we see more and more adolescents becoming HIV positive. That is another matter of concern, but we have done a formal study about child-headed households,” she said.





The principal of Dr Frans Indongo Primary School, Job Shipanga, told Namibian Sun yesterday that teachers often spend more time persuading children not to drop out of school than actually teaching.

“Some of the parents have passed on so the children drop out of school. We encourage them to return to school. This is a problem because the time a teacher is spending with them at home, the other children at school are left out,” he said.

The majority of these children live in informal settlements, he added.

The Khomas Region education director, Gerard Vries, says there is a perception that better education is available in urban areas and the older siblings are often sent to the city to take care of their younger siblings while the parents remain in the village or smaller towns. “Now this impacts what happens in school, because there must be oversight with what happens with homework. So it is a serious challenge,” he says. During the recent #BeFree outreach to the Osire refugee camp one of the key issues raised was the issue of child-headed households created by children fleeing their home countries without their parents or losing them along the way.

According to Dr Veronica Theron, child protection expert and an aide in the Office of the First Lady, the issue needs to be addressed urgently.

She points out that the issue is picked up on an ad hoc basis, which makes it difficult for people to determine the true magnitude of the problem.

“It is a recurring issue in most of the regions,” she says.

She adds that in the northern parts of the country the biggest factor is HIV/Aids.



Serious

According to a report titled 'A Namibia Fit For Children – 25 Years of Progress' more children in rural areas than in urban areas are orphans, with the highest percentages recorded in the Omusati, Ohangwena and Oshana regions, where approximately 20% of children were orphaned.

According to this report, 48.6% of Namibian children live in overcrowded conditions where they have to compete for resources such as school uniforms.

The report also highlights that 7 500 children aged six to 12 years in rural areas (6.5%) and 44 090 children in towns (20%) are deprived of education, housing, sanitation, caretakers or electricity.

The result is that school uniforms and shoes are not priorities in child-headed households where children barely have enough to eat or a place to stay.

In 2008, during Nangolo Mbumba's tenure as education minister, the Education Sector Policy for Orphans and Vulnerable Children was launched.

It was revealed at time that since 2004, the ministry of gender equality and child welfare had registered 142 777 orphans and vulnerable children and that this number was increasing. It was projected that by 2021, Namibia will have approximately 250 000 OVC under the age of 15 and therefore the situation must not be taken lightly.

During his 2018 State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Hage Geingob said the number of orphans and vulnerable children receiving grants had increased from 285 431 in the 2016/17 financial year to 344 055 in the 2017/18 financial year.

In 2001 the census recorded 97 000 OVCs and four years later, in 2005, the ministry of education recorded 142 777 OVCs.



JEMIMA BEUKES

Similar News

 

Teen pregnancies 'tragedy'

3 weeks ago - 30 July 2019 | Social Issues

The Khomas Region recorded 89 school pregnancies in the first term of this year, while 1 002 learners fell pregnant between 2015 and 2018.Ombudsman John...

Vulnerable and alone

1 month - 19 July 2019 | Social Issues

After an initial projection in 2008 that there would be 250 000 orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 15 by 2021, President Hage...

Hopeless, destitute

2 months ago - 14 June 2019 | Social Issues

A family of five at Kayeura village in the Musese constituency of Kavango East are living amid hopelessness in a makeshift structure made of pieces...

‘Just hunt for another woman’

2 months ago - 12 June 2019 | Social Issues

KENYA KAMBOWE Gender affairs minister Doreen Sioka has urged men to find another partner when their relationships go...

Alcohol linked to high suicide rate

2 months ago - 29 May 2019 | Social Issues

Namibia has once again been fingered as one of the African countries with the highest per capita alcohol consumption, which could also explain its high...

Deadbeat dads

3 months ago - 21 May 2019 | Social Issues

Although Namibian law holds both parents equally responsible for meeting the basic needs of their children, nearly half of households are run by single mothers,...

Confusion over shack baby

3 months ago - 15 May 2019 | Social Issues

The mother of a three-month-old baby girl who the City Police confirmed had died at the end of April after she and her three young...

Blaauw makes a difference

3 months ago - 14 May 2019 | Social Issues

Mariselle Stofberg and Michelline NawatisesTylo Blaauw has raised funds to have an air conditioner installed at an old-age home and also handed over a cheque...

Our grim suicide reality

4 months ago - 04 April 2019 | Social Issues

An estimated 25 000 Namibians attempted suicide in 2015, while 2 331 Namibians died by suicide between 2011 and 2015. The high number of...

No bed, no food, only God's grace

4 months ago - 02 April 2019 | Social Issues

With no bed to sleep on, no food to eat and a mahangu field that is likely to yield no harvest this year, an elderly...

Latest News

Construction pins hope on national...

10 hours ago | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – The Construction Industries Federation (CIF) is “excited” about the possibility of a revised bill on a national construction council being re-tabled in...

Airport will get Ya Toivo...

10 hours ago | Transport

A statue of the late anti-apartheid stalwart Herman Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo will be erected at the airport in Ondangwa at a later stage.In the...

Vaccination deaths haunt govt

10 hours ago | Health

Nine cases in the High Court, in which parents are suing the health ministry for close to N$5 million after their children died following routine...

Ghana cashes in on slave...

10 hours ago | Economics

Alessandra Prentice and Siphiwe Sibeko - In a clearing at the turnoff to Assin Manso, a billboard depicts two African slaves in loincloths, their arms...

Killer gets two life sentences

10 hours ago | Justice

Lukas Nicodemus, who was earlier this month found guilty of killing two women and burning their bodies in the capital in January 2016, was yesterday...

The shame of child marriage

10 hours ago | Opinion

President Hage Geingob’s plea around child marriages should be commended.Speaking at the opening of the 22nd annual meeting of the Council of Traditional Leaders this...

Zero maintenance bank account launched

10 hours ago | Banking

With Nedbank Namibia’s recently launched Pay-As-You-Use account, clients of any age or income group pay bank charges only when they make a transaction.“We are excited...

Recognising traditional authorities ‘costly’

10 hours ago | Economics

GOBABIS - President Hage Geingob said the constant applications for the recognition of traditional authorities is financially unsustainable for government and causes tribal division.Speaking at...

Africa Briefs

10 hours ago | Economics

SA: No 'big bang' approach to nuclearSouth Africa will not adopt a "big bang" approach to building new nuclear power capacity but instead add capacity...

Load More