WALVIS BAY - Parents of primary school learners who did not obtain spaces in schools are urged to be patient as the Erongo Regional Council is addressing the delay experienced with the construction of a new school.
At least 480 grade one learners and about 300 grade eight learners are not placed yet at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
According to figures provided to New Era, 440 grade one learners and 260 grade eight learners are from Walvis Bay, while the rest are from Swakopmund.
Parents last week scrambled to secure the last open spaces for their learners, but the schools all indicated that they have no more space.
“Sorry, we are full. There is no space for any grades,” read signs at most of the primary schools at Walvis Bay.
Walvis Bay Rural constituency councillor Florian Donatus asked for patience at a press conference held on Thursday in Walvis Bay as schools at the coast continue to struggle to accommodate the increasing number of grade one and grade eight learners.
Last week, community activist August Bikeur said there is a need for new schools at the coast to accommodate the influx of learners.
“The coast is growing, and we can anticipate a demand for basics such as schools and accommodation. Hence, we need to prepare as the construction of classrooms at schools is not ideal and only creates further challenges in terms of grade eight enrolments,” he stated.
Bikeur said proper planning needs to happen so that the coastal towns don’t deal with the same issue again next year.
He added that these types of challenges put pressure on teachers and learners, but also on infrastructure as schools are built to only accommodate a certain number of learners.
Sandra Visagie, a teacher at Immanuel Ruiters Primary School, told New Era that they are also full as they started with enrolment last year.
“We are giving our old learners a grace period, and only if they don’t return to school will we fill those spaces. However, it depends on the return of those learners,” she noted.
Aina Shikongo, who was hoping to have her daughter enrolled at the last minute yesterday, said she was asked to wait and see if there would be any openings.
“I was asked to return after 15 days. Hopefully, I will be able to enrol my daughter,” she added.
A new primary school which was expected to be completed by the end of this month hit a snag with logistical challenges, hence could not open on time for the intake of learners.
That new school has a capacity of 350 learners.
The school is being constructed adjacent to the De Duine Secondary School for N$3.5 million, and will consist of five blocks which include administrative and ablution facilities as well as four blocks with two classrooms each.
Donatus said the delay is beyond their control, and council will sit in early February to iron out all the challenges.
“In the meantime, we urge parents not to lose hope and to continue monitoring the situation at schools for possible spaces. In reality, we have only built four schools since independence, but the population of Walvis Bay has been increasing,” he continued.
According to him, the town cannot keep up with the demand, as more people are flocking to the coast in search of jobs.
Meanwhile, the Walvis Bay education circuit is planning to rent classrooms at the Namsov Learning Centre in Kuisebmond, as well as space at the Methodist Church, to accommodate learners currently on the waiting list at the town.
The inspector for the Swakopmund Education Circuit, Tania Louw, indicated that the construction of a secondary school is currently underway in Swakopmund, and will be
completed in March this year.
“We have, in the meantime, arranged that the learners who are placed at the new secondary school should attend afternoon classes at the Coastal High School from 1 February until 31 March 2023, after which period they will move over to the new secondary school,” she observed.