By: Uakutura Kambaekua
The education directorate in the Kunene region says it was unaware that Etanga Primary School learners are accommodated in classrooms which are meant for teaching and learning only.
According to the directorate, they are aware of the absence of a hostel at the school, adding that hostel blocks were earmarked to be constructed, and a feasibility study was carried out.
“The directorate is not aware that learners are accommodated in classrooms,” said the region’s education director Angelina Jantze in a detailed report on the region’s accommodation predicaments at several schools.
Jantze’s response came at the back of various news reports on the ‘inadequate housing’ situation faced by learners at Etanga Primary school in the Epupa constituency, many of whom are forced to sleep on cold floors.
Etanga PS acting principal Marukua Kangombe stated that the learners have been sleeping in classrooms for the past few months, forcing the school management to disinfect the classes before lessons.
“Kids are sleeping in the classes, and early in the morning, we are disinfecting the classes for the teaching and learning to happen. So basically, this kind of situation it’s affecting the teaching and learning,” he said, adding that the school management has resolved to discontinue teaching at 10 o’clock on Fridays to allow the learners to travel back to their villages.
“These kids don’t have a proper hostel, and for that reason only, we can’t keep them until 13H00 since they are travelling long distances. Some are travelling 5 kilometres, some are travelling close to 40 kilos. That’s the situation at Etanga primary school,” added Kangombe.
Kangombe has called on good samaritans to assist the school in addressing the lack of housing in the form of building materials and mattresses. “Maybe so we erect a corrugated iron sheet, or if there is a company out there who can listen to me and come on the ground, so we just have something like a proper hostel for these kids,” pleaded Kangombe.
She further said if the situation persists, it will result in school dropouts, especially among the young children who travel for long distances, thus affecting their concentration during lessons.
In response to the Etanga PS situation, Jantze says a feasibility study was done for the construction of the hostel, however, there are impediments as the school is situated on the edge of a riverbed.
“The school is earmarked for hostel blocks to be constructed, and a feasibility study was carried out by the education, arts and culture ministry, aimed at identifying a possible site for the construction of the hostel, but found it very difficult because the school is situated on the edge of a riverbed. The identified site was close to the riverbed, which might be affected in future by floods,” said Jantze.
“The school is in a far remote area, approximately 100 km from Opuwo, so the ministry considers it a priority for a hostel to be constructed, but certain technical issues should first be sorted out,” she added.
She said that the region is also faced with many competing challenges, compounded with the economic downturns, which are not only peculiar to the region alone.
“It is worth noting that the directorate of education, arts culture in the Kunene region faces many competing challenges. As such, similar situations were experienced in the past, where learners were sleeping in classrooms; therefore, hostel blocks for boys and girls were built,” noted Jantze.
She said this was done at Otjerunda CS, Ombombo CS, Omuhonga CS, and furthermore through donor funding and sponsorship by Koakoland project in the Epupa constituency, namely at (11) Ondao Mobile Units, Oruseu, Onayena, Ombandaondu, Okoupawe, Otutati, Okakuju- Karondanda, Otjizeka, Otjisoko, Otjamaungu and Otjinungua PS aimed at alleviating the accommodation challenges at many schools, where learners have to walk long distances to schools.
According to the regional education director, the ministry is currently subsidising 27 community hostels to the tune of N$34 million per financial year and is still registering more community hostels that conform to health standards to alleviate the accommodation challenges in the region.
Regarding the Covid-19 project funds that were availed in 2020, Jantze affirmed that hostel blocks were built at six schools in the region for boys and girls (Otjerunda CS, Ombombo CS, Kamanjab CS, Elias Amxab, Orumana CS and Jakob Basson CS) to alleviate the overcrowding in hostels.
She said that the remaining funds have been utilised to renovate some government hostels, ablution facilities at schools, drilling boreholes and construction of new ablution blocks at various schools in the region.
“The directorate is not in support of learners being accommodated in classrooms; therefore, parents are advised to enrol learners at boarding schools where possible or at the nearest schools to their vicinity,” she said while calling for a collective approach in requesting members of the society to come on board with concerted efforts and donations to alleviate the unfortunate situation at Etanga PS.
The school has enrolled 324 learners for the academic year 2022.