By: Andrew Kathindi and Annakleta Haikera at Rundu
Community members of the Kulisuka informal area in Nkurenkuru in the Kavango West region fear for the education of over 800 learners at the Kulisuka Primary School after flooding in the area damaged the school severely.
They also fear that more expected rains in January might jeopardize the school calendar for the learners in the new year.
“The situation here is very bad. It was raining the whole night. Some of the classes were damaged. It needs the government to help as soon as possible because of how the schools look. If the kids are to come back to school, they will not have a good start,” Simuku Paulus Karembera, an activist in the two Kavango regions, told The Villager.
He further said that many schools in the Kavango regions are not in good condition, and the situation is exacerbated when the rain comes.
Grade one learners at Siguruguru Primary School in Kavango East region where, this year, taught under a tree after the school, which was established in 2018 to absorb children from the area, was recognized by the government in 2020.
The damage at Kulisuka Primary School is so severe that the flooding has even uprooted some trees and split others in two, causing a hazardous environment, particularly for lower grade learners.
“They are not safe. Luckily, it happened nighttime, and the kids were not there. Imagine if it happened when the kids were there? It would be a lot of problems.”
Most of the structures at the school are made from corrugated iron, as is the case for a lot of schools in rural and informal settlements in the region.
“Even some classes that they have now is only those brown tents. Whenever we ask them to fix this, we get that they don’t have the budget. They are waiting for money. But what must we do? Do we need to wait? We are tired. In 2022 we want things to change,” said Karembera.
He said the rain also damaged the rooms and properties of other residents in the area.
“We know that people say in Kavango we are poor and used to that poverty, but we are tired. You can talk and talk, but nothing is happening. What must we do, leave it like that? In some schools, if you go in the bush, you will cry.”
He said both the regional governor and the regional councillor are aware of what happened.
“The problem we have is they make many promises of what they want to do, but it never happens. But if they don’t do anything, I don’t think the kids must go back to school because the school is not in good condition.”
“The rain will only stop in February or later, so it could be a hazard for learners.”
Eva, a resident of Kulisuka, says that she is concerned that 2022 will likely be affected because of the rains.
“Our kids are going there to schools. They now have to be in tents or any other alternative way. Next year in January, there will be rain again, unless they learn under the tree, but some trees have even fallen apart.”
“Everything was damaged. It’s not just the school. Even the church itself because the church is next to the school.”
She said that the school was in good condition before the flooding, with a new structure being built next to the old structures.
“That school accommodates a lot of school learners from Kulisuka, Karanawa and Maporeza. Those are big locations.”
The ministry of education, arts and culture’s executive director Sanet Steenkamp was not available at publication.
The education ministry’s inspector for the Nkurenkuru circuit Esther Karaondo said she knew the damage.
“I am aware of the situation. They called me. I haven’t been there. And I am not mandated to talk about it at this stage.”
When quizzed about whether he was aware of the damage to the school, Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) spokesperson in the Kavango West region, Philipus Sepuka, told The Villager, “Yes, I saw it on Whatsapp, but I need to establish it first to see. I am not there. I am not in the region; I am out of the region.”