Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said there are not enough educational psychologists to cater for all schools so as to assist learners who get caught up in the abuse and dealing of drugs.
“It is not only that we do not have enough psychologists in our schools, but also as a country. We need to get more psychologists first as a country, and then later as a Ministry,” she stated.
Hanse-Himarwa, however, said she still has to explore her Ministry and its challenges as she is just three months in her office.
The Minister said she cannot admit that drugs are available as that would mean drugs are permitted on school premises.
“There is a certain number of learners who are engaged in using drugs. That is why we need collective measures to sensitize parents, and all those who are making drugs available to our learners,” she stressed.
Hanse-Himarwa said law-enforcement entities are failing to do their job as they are supposed to rid society of people who are selling drugs to school learners.
Likewise, her Ministry still has to strengthen safety and security measures to protect school learners.
Educational psychologist Dr. Gunther Hoffmann said it is a big challenge to education authorities as drugs are made available even to school learners.
He said it is made easier for learners to buy drugs because parents made money available to their children for other purposes.
“Some parents spent time to earn money, but at the end of the day they give that money to their children, who are school learners, to enjoy themselves. This leads to children spending that money on buying drugs whenever they are available,” said Dr. Hoffmann.
Learners also tend to do what ‘peer pressure’ forces them to do, like taking drugs.
The educational psychologist said different drugs can have various impacts on the academic performances of learners.
Cannabis - also known as weed - can cause psychotic disorders (the severe mental disorders which cause abnormal thinking and perceptions). People with psychoses lose touch with reality. Two of the main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations.
“If a learner is using drugs, their capability to perform in school activities is very limited. These learners sometimes lose interest in school activities, and only focus on getting drugs,” said the educational psychologist.
Dr. Hoffmann added that drug-addicted learners are prone to lower preparedness and poor participation in schoolwork.
Behavioural changes can also affect the education of the learner as he or she will start missing classes, and other behaviour which can affect fellow learners.
He said these learners become unreliable and lack accountability, which makes them not to think of any later consequences of their actions within and outside the school environment.
Most learners thus do not perform to their best potential level as there are many challenges in school environments, and not only drugs.
Dr. Hoffmann said there is a need for more psychologists in schools to assist learners faced with various challenges.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner and spokesperson of the Namibian Police (NamPol) Edwin Kanguatjivi said they carry out inspections in schools.
“We do visit schools to alert children about the dangers of drugs.
We do it with our Drug Squad officers, community policing component and drug experts”, he stated.
Kanguatjivi said it cannot be said that the accessibility of drugs by school learners is under control as they are not expecting any case of school learners being involved in drugs.
He added that dagga is the drug which is more easily accessible to school learners, and drug dealers also target learners to sell drugs for them.
The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Doreen Sioka said learners are moulded from home, and they should not be exposed to drugs as it will hinder their education and limit their rights.
“Parents who are making drugs accessible to their children are not normal parents at all, and they should be blamed for any wrong action these children execute,” she said.
The Minister added that school learners have the tendency of trying new things. Hence, if drugs are made accessible to them, they might try to indulge in such drugs.
“If there are parents who are in any manner giving drugs to children, they should stop it as soon as possible,” Sioka stressed.