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Pupils sent home over outstanding N$100

2022-05-11  Festus Hamalwa

Pupils sent home over outstanding N$100
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Learners at Okatope Junior Secondary School in Ohangwena are angry and fear they will miss exams after being chased out of school for not paying N$40 for copy paper and N$60 to pay the security guard.

On Monday, learners told New Era that it was around 09h00 when they were ordered to leave the school premises for not having money, which had been requested by the school. 

The school’s principal, Lebeus Shikongo, has refused to comment. 

They claim almost 70% of the school’s learners have been chased out.

Learners said they have been given until tomorrow to find the money. If not, then they will not be allowed to return to school.

They said the copy machine can only be used by those who have paid their N$40.

The school is in need of papers for a copy machine and money to pay the security guard working at the school.

In January this year, the education ministry’s executive director Sanet Steenkamp said security guards at schools have been reduced.

For 2021/22, she said, government had transferred an amount of N$153 million to schools in different regions for security services. 

The ministry also availed N$51 million to the regions for the procurement of stationery.

A grade 8 learner told New Era that he is worried about his education since his mother is unemployed, and there is nowhere she can get the money.

“I told my mother that I am required to take money to school, and she told me that she could not find such money. Therefore, she told me not to go to school since there is no money,” he added.

The boy said he might fall behind with schoolwork since he will be sitting at home while his fellow learners will continue with their school activities.

One of the learners in grade 10 said it was a big embarrassment for them when they were chased out of class in front of their fellow learners.

“We are not from the same houses, and not every parent can afford such money. Why are we being treated like this? It is our democratic country with free education, but now we are denied classes because we don’t have money to pay the security officer,” she lamented.

Learners are calling on the education minister to investigate the matter at the school because there are also teachers who often threaten learners.

Also speaking to New Era, one of the parents who has five children depending on her and who does not have any source of income, said her children will stay at home because she cannot afford to pay for five children at the same time.

She added that the government should come on board and buy the school’s stationery before their children drop out of school.

“Imagine a learner being chased out of class for not having N$40. What type of teachers and principals are we having today? It is very painful to us parents because we want our children to be educated,” she stressed.

The father of a grade 9 learner told this publication that it is unfair for the parents to buy school stationery while there is a government that is supposed to fulfil this responsibility.

In addition, parents have expressed their frustration over teachers who like to insult learners with bad words about their parents, and simultaneously also mention the poor conditions of their parents’ houses.

Parents told New Era that their children are always reporting about their teachers who are constantly insulting them and mocking them in class.

“We are calling on the education director to investigate the matter before it gets out of hand because we are very tired of the teachers at Okatope insulting our children,” they charged.

Approached for comment, Ohangwena education director Isak Hamatwi said this is unacceptable and completely out of order.

“No teacher or school principal has the right to chase learners out of class because they could not afford to give money requested by the school”, he emphasised.

 Hamatwi said his office recently also requested schools to send a list of their stationery needs, but only some schools did.

They will thus visit the Okatope JSS to find an amicable solution to the problem, he added.

 

fhamalwa@nepc.com.na

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2022-05-11  Festus Hamalwa

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