IMPALILA ISLAND – The long distances many learners in remote rural areas have to travel to access school has on numerous occasions led to them quitting.
Education minister Anna Nghipondoka said this state of affairs reveals the dire need for more classrooms in rural areas.
“Such situations and many other similar ones, where learners have to travel long distances, give the ministry a headache because for some of our learners, this means they would drop out of school,” she said at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of classrooms at the Impalila Combined School in the Zambezi region.
The Japanese government granted N$942 000 towards the building of a new school block to consist of four classrooms and a storeroom for the school to continue education up to the Advanced Subsidiary level.
“The government of Japan is enabling the directorate of education in Zambezi to assist these learners to reach their true potential and reach their dreams by creating a springboard and much-needed foundation for the future,” she said.
Japanese ambassador to Namibia Hisao Nishimaki said the funding for the project was derived from the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP), which aims at achieving a direct and immediate impact on the well-being of communities at the grassroots level by providing new and comfortable school buildings.
The Impalila Combined School will be the 67th school to benefit from GGP this month since its inception in 1997.
“If we support the learners of Impalila Combined School to continue their education in this school until the Advanced Subsidiary level, their paths to a prosperous future will be widened,” said Nishimaki.
The school’s principal, Chris Sihope, told New Era that assistance from the Japanese government will ease the shortage of classrooms.
“We are not fully-capacitated regarding human resources. We have 16 teachers plus three support staff,” he said, adding that he is expecting four additional teachers this week.
Sihope said their 350-learner population, mostly comprising girls, is still growing, and they need a hostel to cater for those coming from far.
“Some learners are from the area, while others are from the sister schools that are in the floodplains. With some people having relatives here, they would usually send their children to attend school here. Some teachers living here also assist by housing the homeless,” he said.
A ninth grader at the school, Patience Matengu, is excited about the construction of classrooms at the school.
“I am happy that more classrooms will be built, and that I won’t have to go and look for another school for the next two years. It is a relief. We won’t also have to spend so much money on travelling,” said the expressive teen, who aspires to be a medical doctor.
Another learner, Taylo Mayumbelo, told New Era the biggest issue when moving to the next grade is looking for a school, and that means they need to move off the island.
“We love the teachers; they teach us well – and we love it here,” she said.
Daniel Mwikanda, who is also in grade nine, is happy that other learners who could not be accommodated will now be considered. “I am looking forward to being here for my grade 10 and hopefully 11,” said Mwikanda, who aspires to be a soldier.