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Students at Kavango West School Live in Squalor

By: Annakleta Haikera

A Kavango West Region secondary school, about 50 km west of Nkurenkuru, has been described as so unhygienic that the foul smell hangs around the corridors, and worms from the toilets infest the grounds.

The deplorable conditions have tormented learners at the Himarwa Ithete Secondary School for nearly six months now.

The hostel is overcrowded with 760 pupils while it was supposed to have an intake of 260 only.

The situation forces some learners to sleep in tents while those in the hostels share beds. The learners, who spoke to The Villager on condition of anonymity, complained of foul smell from the blocked toilets and worms.

“The challenge we have been experiencing at our school is that learners are a lot and we don’t have enough chairs. Especially the grade 8s, they are using tents as their classrooms. Especially now during the rainy season, the teachers are finding it hard to teach because when it rains, all the learners run away from the class because water comes in the tents,” one learner said.

She further said that the hostel’s main toilets have been closed since last year. “Now we don’t have anything to use. Learners are a lot, but accommodation is few.”

“AS learners use tents as their rooms, which is not safe for them, especially at night. You don’t know what happens at night. You might be robbed or attacked at night. Who will we blame?

On single beds, sometimes you find four people.”

There are no proper facilities, food and other amenities, except one pot where all the food is prepared.

The learners say they always go late for classes because only one pot is used. There are times when they go to bed late at night.

This has forced kitchen workers to work double shifts until late because the number of learners at the hostel has increased by 500.

They say water leaks every day, and their dormitories are flooded. They also say they walk through water puddles to take a bath.

The learners say some bathrooms/toilets don’t have lights.

This has forced some learners to use nearby open spaces adjacent to their rooms to relieve themselves during nighttime. Besides that, there are a lot of mosquitoes.

They complain about insecurity due to the non-availability of generators. They say it is too dark for them to see what the teacher writes on the chalkboard during lessons.

Speaking to The Villager, a teacher at Himarwa Ithete Secondary School, who chose to be unnamed, said, “This has been an ongoing situation since last year. The children live in this bad condition, and it’s very unhealthy. Looking at the pandemic, the condition at the hostel is bad. There is litter all over where the food is being prepared because it’s at an open space.”

Some parents complain that they do not like the conditions in which the students live in the hostel and that the students live in tents instead of a proper building.

“I am stressed seeing how these students live in an unhealthy environment. Looking at the school and the hostel kitchen, from the second week of March, the cooks are preparing the food outside the kitchen. I heard one of the cooks got burned. This water is running to our homes, and it has a horrible smell. But thinking about those children who have to endure the smell every day, it’s a pity.”

She said she is not happy about the environment where the kids are sleeping.

“You find in a room that 18 to 20 learners are sharing the same room. That’s very bad with the pandemic we’re experiencing. Some kids sleep on the floor, and the floors are not clean. The government should hear our cry; this environment is not healthy.”

Parents called out for the education ministry to visit the school or change the situation at the school to make it a better living and learning environment for all the children at the school.

Kavango West education inspector Japhet Siteketa was not available for comment at the time of publication.


Julia Heita

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