ONAYENA – The minister of education, Anna Nghipondoka, says delays in reopening of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic could have resulted in massive dropouts countrywide.
“We had to reopen else we could face a crisis, as a huge percent would have dropped out, as they could engage in sexual activities, become mothers, or alcohol and drug users. Therefore, we should understand that Covid-19 is temporary and if we follow health protocols, we can overcome it,” remarked Nghipondoka while visiting the Nehale Senior Secondary School in the Oshikoto region.
“We couldn’t also afford to have more than 40 000 learners repeating. That is why as government we had to pull resources together to enable fight the virus. To that effect, education received N$1 billion to improve infrastructures in schools, such as ablution facilities and hostels, as well as provision of water, among others” she added.
The school has recorded over 200 confirmed cases of Covid-19, involving mostly learners.
The minister took time to motivate both staff and learners ahead of the final year examination despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.
She encouraged both learners and teachers to persevere, focus, as well as remain positive to help cope with the stress that comes with pandemic.
“Let’s develop a positive mind, as this helps remain energetic and give strength. This pandemic should leave you strong and innovative in overcoming any difficult situations. Desist from the negativity, as it derails all efforts – and as Namibians, let’s learn to appreciate the government efforts,” she urged.
In addition, she said, Nehale being an epicentre will go down the history books as one of the school that fought and overpowered the pandemic.
Nghipondoka also visited and spoke to the learners who tested positive and are under isolation in the hostel.
Meanwhile, learners who are now sleeping in tents complained there was no social distancing, as they are overcrowded with up to over 10 in one tent.
Another concern was that they are having sleepless nights due to fear of snakes.
“We don’t feel safe at all – and during the day, it’s very hot and we can’t stay in. There is no electricity also,” stressed the learners who were found gathered at one tent.
Further venting their concerns, learners said they were not getting sufficient food.
There are roughly 16 tents erected at the school.
In response, education director Aletta Eises said the food rationing is increased, whereby learners now get a fruit and vegetables with their daily meals.
“Unless I find out exactly how their menu looks like, then I can provide a precise answer. But for as long as I know, the caterers were instructed and they changed the menu,” she said.
Regarding the issue of lodging in tents, Eises said it was done to allow learners to study.
“We realised learners can not study well if they are sleeping in the same room; that’s why we had to separate them and provide alternative accommodation,” she further explained.
In addition, she said all precautionary measures are in place. - email@example.com