Oshikoto school naming turns nasty

  The renaming of Onampadhi Primary School in Oshikoto region is turning dirty with the family of the school’s founder and first principal, the late Sakeus Amunyela opposing the move. The school management wants the school to be called Dr Sackey Akweenda School after an influential lawyer who hails from the community but the Amunyela family wants it to be renamed after their father. Amunyela’s aggrieved daughter, Rauha Hartney told The Villager that she has been petitioning the current school Principal, Festus Sheyanale, the Oshigambo circuit Inspector Nicky Uugwanga and the Ministry of Education to consider renaming the school after her late father because he founded the school in 1981. Rauha claimed that her father’s name is an automatic choice because he used his money to buy roofing materials and took some chairs from his house.  Amunyela was Principal of the school from 1981 until 1986 when he retired at the age of 67 years.   “I have written to the Minister of Education and to the school principal where I raised my objection to the planned renaming of Onampadhi Primary School. As a family, we do not understand why the school that was founded by our father has to be renamed after someone else whose legacy is not in the school.  “We do not understand the criteria used in choosing the candidate, when our father is an automatic candidate,” said Hartney. In one letter dated 3 June 2011 and addressed to the Minister of Education Dr Abraham Iyambo, Hartney narrated how her father founded the school and ‘how he bought corrugated iron sheets with his own money for roofing’. Education Permanent Secretary, Alfred Ilukena, has since replied to Hartney telling her that her letter was forwarded to the Oshikoto Education Directorate for consideration. Sheyanale has, however, since confirmed that the school management plans to rename the school after Dr Sackey Akweenda but dismissed Hartney claims that the process of selecting a new name for the school was not free and fair. “We did not overlook the contribution made by the founder of the school, we appreciate them. However, the school management organised an election and both Akweenda and late Amunyela’s names were there.  “The fact is that most parents present voted for Dr. Akweenda to be named after the school. We do not have anything against the school founder and if his name had won, the school management would have forwarded it for approval to the Ministry,” said Sheyanale. Dr. Akweenda is a prominent legal counselor in Namibia who hails from Onampadhi Village. According to the school principal, he is an exemplary community member, and renaming the school after him will inspire learners to excel.  Sheyanale said the school management has tried its best to make the process of renaming the school free and fair. He also said that after Hartney had raised her concern, an election was held and she was asked to motivate her case as to why parents should vote in favour of renaming the school in her father’s name. “The concerned individual does not pitch up for parents’ meetings and it’s only now when we are at the final stages of renaming the school that she wants to make an issue out of this situation.  “Dr Akweenda`s name has already been sent to the Ministry for approval and the least we could do for the late Amunyela is to name a classroom after him and if the family does not want to accept it, there are other candidates in the list,” said Sheyanale. Hartney, however, maintained that as ‘family members of the late school’s founder, we felt there was no need to have an election as our father founded the school and it was just fair that the school be named after the founder’.  Oshigambo Circuit Education Inspector, Nicky Natangwe Uugwanga, has confirmed that he was aware of Hartney`s complaints but added that there was nothing he could do since the community had overwhelmingly voted for the school to be renamed after Akweenda. “I supervised the election and more than 90% of the parents present voted for Akweenda. It was a free and fair process and my advice to the concerned family members is to accept the proposed naming of the classroom after their late father,” said Uugwanga. The Inspector added that when someone founds a school it will not automatically be named after them. He said it will not help the situation to name the school after the founder when parents themselves have voted for Akweenda. Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Alfred Ilukena also confirmed Hartney’s complains but said the issue of renaming the school lies in the hands of community members and he had referred the matter to theOshikoto Education Directorate. “It’s upon the community to decide whom they want the school to be renamed after. All what we do at the ministry level is to look at the motivation letter that accompanies the proposal and approve the name change if there was a unanimous agreement. And by unanimous agreement I do not mean every person has to agree as it is impossible in a democracy that everyone will agree to the same thing,” said Ilukena. Meanwhile, Oshikoto Region Deputy Education Director Andre Struwig said they were yet to receive the proposal from Onampadhi Primary School. “We are aware of the controversy surrounding the renaming of Onampadhi Primary School. The process is somehow stalled due to the complains raised by the concerned individual. I can confirm that so far the school management has failed to send us the proposal that we will forward to the Permanent Secretary for approval,” said Struwig. According to Struwig, the Oshikoto Directorate has demanded that the school management submit a consent letter from the individual whom the school will be renamed after which should be accompanied by a motivational letter. This, however, is still to happen. Onampadhi Primary School has about 213 pupils in grade 1 to 7.