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Pentecostal churchgoers accuse principal of discrimination

2022-05-11  Festus Hamalwa

Pentecostal churchgoers accuse principal of discrimination
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Members of charismatic churches have accused the principal of Oshakati Senior Secondary School of discriminating against their members by denying them permission to attend services on Sunday.

Parents of children who live in the school’s hostel have expressed their frustration, saying only learners who belong to Lutheran, Catholic and Anglican churches are allowed to attend church service on Sundays, while others are not allowed because of their affiliation to Pentecostal churches, also known as revival or oshiveva churches.

Parents are calling on the education minister to get involved in the matter, as they are not happy with the perceived unfair treatment of the learners.

Parents stated the school should allow their children to attend churches of their choice, where their parents also attend.

In an interview with New Era on Monday, the school principal Oshakati SSS, Josua Shilongo, said in 2019 and 2020, all learners were allowed to attend church service every Sunday, but it stopped after the school realised many learners do not attend church when granted permission.

Shilongo said, girls, especially, return late to the hostel from revival churches, while some do not come back at all.

“Imagine, a learner coming back from revival church around midnight, and walking in a location where it is not safe. Therefore, we decided not to allow learners to attend Sunday church service because we want to ensure that our learners are safe,” he stressed.

Shilongo further explained only learners who have registered for confirmation classes are allowed to go out to attend church service.

He added that in 2020, parents approached his office with concern that the learners are always coming to school late from revival church, while some were not attending church.

“Therefore, the parents agreed their learners should not be allowed to attend church service because some girls go to their boyfriends, while others go to shebeens,” Shilongo said. 

The principal added some girls fell pregnant, and this resulted in them dropping out of school.

“We want to make sure that our learners are safe. We don’t want school girls to become victims of rape out there,” he added.

Furthermore, Shilongo defended his school, saying it is not factual that revival church members are denied permission to attend church.

Approached for a comment, education director in the Oshana region Hileni Amukana said teachers and hostel matrons do not have a right to give consent to learners to go out and attend church.

Amukana said it is risky to let a child go out of the school premises because if something bad happens to that child, his or her parents will come and blame the principal.

“Every child in the school premises should be guided by the staff to ensure that all learners are staying in a safe environment,” Amukana stated.

She, therefore, calls on parents who would like their children to attend Sunday service to visit the office of the school principal and sign a letter to consent the child(ren) to go to school every Sunday.

“If something will happen to that specific child, the parents do not have to come and confront the school because the parent is already aware that the child goes out to church,” he added.

Also speaking to New Era, some learners of Oshakati SSS said they do not receive Sunday church service on the premises like other schools.

They added the school management should make arrangements to invite various churches to offer Sunday service to them.

2022-05-11  Festus Hamalwa

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