A principal’s tough stance on parental involvement finally bore fruit after she took the drastic step of locking learners out of classes until their parents make arrangements in settling a N$300 contribution for stationery.
When New Era arrived at the Fidel Castro Primary School in Windhoek’s Tobias Hainyeko constituency last week, more than 50 learners were seated outside while some were peeping through the window and watching their peers enjoying their lessons.
Because of the school’s strategy, they collected about N$72 000 during the first week of 2023.
Ndapandula Martha Shilyomuntu, principal at the school, indicated that for years, the majority of parents did not make any contributions for school development. The strategy was thus to invite them to see her.
“I want them to come to see me, and make arrangements. Most of the parents only pay the fees when their kids are in grade zero. From thereon, we don’t see them. They only send the learners to school. Hence, last year we made a decision together with those who were present during a parents’ meeting to hold other parents accountable for benefitting from others’ contributions,” she explained.
The school does not provide a stationery list like other schools, and buys books, stationery and some uniforms for destitute learners.
“We are the only school that teaches learners not in uniform. We don’t teach uniforms, but the learners. We teach from the heart, hence we do not demand anything from the parents. For the past years, we had no strategy. They used to hide from us. But this year, because the school has taken the action, they are crying foul”, she confidently defended her actions.
The learners were not allowed to continue to the next grade until their parents make arrangements.
The possible arrangements required are either that a parent offers to pay a minimum of N$50, and assure the school when they would settle the rest. Alternatively, offers of voluntary work at school are also accepted.
The parents who approached New Era said they are concerned about their children sitting outside while others are being taught in classes.
“Yes, the kids are outside because I want to see their parents. They must come so that we talk. Why are they complaining to you, but are not coming to see me? The strategy is to get them here. The school has 1 460 learners, and only about 450 are consistent in making payments. Those who are complaining are the ones who have been benefiting from the money other parents are giving,” she stressed.
She said whether the child paid the school contribution or not, they have been getting stationery from the school for free.
“It is that money which we used to build a modern library, a computer lab and a Life Skills office. We used the same money for other operational costs such as printing because the government subsidy comes late and the school starts early,” she added.
“Imagine, those who understood the strategy have responded promptly and paid what they have to pay, and got their children into class. Those people also need to contribute something, even N$50 dollars. The N$300 is also paid in instalments until September of every year,” the principal observed.
Approached for comment, constituency councillor Christopher Likuwa praised the principal, and said it is time for the parents to take full responsibility for their children’s education and avoid shifting blame.
“We don’t want the same situation where people are shifting blame to the teachers when learners do not perform. Parents must pay, so that they too will play a role in education. We must not put ourselves down due to these types of situations. This school is one of the best-performing in the city. Let us do what is the best for the learners,” he emphasised.
Likuwa also accused the parents of being ungrateful to the school management, saying the latter are too lenient but yet giving the best to the learners.
The school is one of the top 10 best-performing primary schools in Kautura.