The education ministry says significant progress has been made towards the implementation of the Covid-19 plan for the construction and renovation of ablution facilities, hostel accommodation and water provision.
Currently, a total of 478 ablution facilities (235 constructed and 243 renovated) have been completed in all the regions. However, 78 are still ongoing.
Education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp said the ministry was allocated an amount of N$800 million for Covid-19 infrastructure for the 2020/21 financial year.
The purpose of allocating these funds was to facilitate the normalisation of teaching and learning across the country through regular face-to-face learning, in compliance with all the Covid-19 health protocols.
The construction and renovation of ablution facilities, hostel accommodation, kitchen facilities and the provision of potable water at schools were identified to be implemented in all the regions.
“Adequate health and sanitation facilities need to be enhanced to ensure a safe learning environment for all the teachers, learners and institutional workers. The purpose of this intervention is to provide ablution facilities at schools where there are none, and renovate the existing ones which are in a dilapidated state. A total of 251 ablution facilities were identified for renovations, and 305 to be constructed countrywide,” Steenkamp noted.
However, not all the schools were covered due to financial constraints, but she pointed out that the ministry is working on ensuring that the projects are fully implemented at such schools in order to benefit the Namibian child.
All ablution facilities’ projects undertaken by the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) have been completed.
The purpose to establish and construct hostel accommodation that provides living spaces for learners as they engage in learning is because many learners across all the regions are faced with a dire need for accommodation.
This has resulted in a growing number of learners squatting in unsafe and unhygienic establishments around school premises due to long distances that they have to travel daily in order to attend school.
“Under these conditions, learners are exposed to high risks of diseases, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancies and substance abuse as parental supervision is non-existent. The construction of new hostels is aimed at alleviating the plight of these learners,” she reasoned.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) guidelines on infection prevention in schools identifies a range of measures that need to be in place for schools to reopen and operate safely.
They include washing hands regularly with soap and water, daily disinfection, and basic drinking water.
With the outbreak of Covid-19, the ministry accelerated the provision of water in schools in all the regions in order to meet the health protocols, and also to ensure that there is minimal infection in schools by maintaining personal hygiene through regular handwashing.