By: Priscilla Mukokobi
Many rural schools in the Zambezi region still face several challenges regarding teaching and learning, and Schuckmarsburg Combined School in the Kabbe north is no exception.
According to Kelvin Katukula, a community member, the state of the school has deteriorated since 2016, when the construction was initiated, and no progress has since occurred.
The ministry is aware of this situation as follow-up official communique and meetings have been conducted on different platforms.
“The worst of all is the accommodation facility, which needs urgent construction as it is a senior secondary school and is overcrowded due to lack of space. The thatched rooms below serve as accommodation for learners and have become a breeding ground as the school experiences high pregnancy cases,” Katukula said.
He added that these learners are equally faced with severe food shortages, especially during flood periods; thus, starvation is the order of the day. In addition, several learners report theft cases as their grass-made rooms provide no protection besides protection against winds and the sun heat.
Schuckmansburg combined School comprises 16 teachers, three institutional workers and one school administrator. It has almost 355 learners. The area has a community hostel that takes only 60 learners against the over 355 enrolled learners.
It is reported that the school management has reported the dire need for the school to be developed further on several occasions. To date, there has been no response from the regional directorate of education or the line ministry.
Several meetings with various stakeholders, including news agencies, have been hosted, but still, the community is yet to see the construction work.
“The community, together with learners, had previously staged a demonstration about their plight. However, still, they have received no response. The community complains that it is terrible, especially during rainy and flooding seasons. What makes the community feel neglected and not considered is the fact that Schuckmansburg and Ndoro Schools were earmarked for expansion and redevelopment. However, Ndoro Memorial School is completed,” Katukula said.
He questioned how the Namibian child would be encouraged to study and excel in such a situation. “How will teachers work to improve results in such a learning and living situation for learners?”
He appealed to the government to rescue the situation, especially since it is the only school in the Zambezi Lower plains to have a government hostel.
In an interview with The Villager, Kabbe North councillor Bernard Sisamu stated that the challenges faced by pupils at Schuckmarsburg combined school have been reported several times to the ministry of education, arts and culture.
Sisamu further said new contractors are ready to start building the hostel and classrooms, but they cannot start because they want the ministry to pay a certain amount to avoid illegal issues like in the past.
“We are not happy with the conditions of Schuckmarsburg combined school, classrooms such as grade 3 and 4 are not really in good condition, there is no control at that school, and there is high teenage pregnancy. Now the ball is in the hands of the ministry of education and ministry of works,” he said.
Dorcus Katukula, a parent of one of the learners at the school, stated that parents are tired of conducting meetings while nothing has been done for over five years without any response from the government.
“Our children are not safe at all. There is no control at the school. They are not learning anything. Our children are always failing because of teenage pregnancy and poor sanitation,” she said
She further said there are no ablution facilities; therefore, the learners have to go in the bushes to help themselves, which is unsafe.
She added that some parents sell alcohol to learners, contributing to factors pupils face.
“I sometimes leave my village to go stay at school where my children are staying so that I can make sure they are safe because there is no electricity at all. And there are parents who stay with the children at home services, and the same parents are encouraging our children to buy alcohol and drink.”
When approached for comment, education minister Anna Esther Nghipondoka said she was not aware of the matter and that The Villager should contact Zambezi education director Josty Kawana.
After several attempts, Kawana said he was busy and refused to comment.