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Free education bigger than stationery - Steenkamp

2022-01-17  Albertina Nakale

Free education bigger than stationery - Steenkamp

As some parents continue to bemoan having to pay for teaching materials while the government declared free education in Namibia, education executive director Sanet Steenkamp argued that it’s every parent’s obligation to contribute towards their child’s education.

In fact, Steenkamp said the government deposited N$152 million into school accounts, but it is not enough for schools. 

Therefore, parents have the moral obligation to support schools and invest in their children’s

“Free education is not about free stationery. It’s bigger than stationery and textbooks. We should be proud to invest in our children’s future,” Steenkamp emphasised. 

According to her, there must be a dialogue between parents and schools, which she says does not happen more often. 

 “For the sake of dignity and pride in investing in their child’s education, every parent is welcome to contribute in monetary terms or offer any services. We are all taxpayers, and taxpayers’ money is being used to invest in infrastructure. We do not ask parents to pay for water and electricity. It’s government paying for it, and that’s why we are so strict about the use and wastage of water at schools and hostels,” she noted.

Education's major cost drivers are salaries, and the other is the catering services for government-registered hostels, which Steenkamp said is costly for boarders per annum as 65 000 pupils are benefiting. 

On school placements, she said those who did not apply can not storm to schools and insist their children must be taken in, especially when they are transferring or making arrangements for families to take care of their children. 

Every single year, schools deal with the same problem, while the admission process should take place the year before. “Our admission already started in June 2021 for 2022. By September and October, most parents knew where their children will be, and some knew their child would be on the waiting list.”

Hotspot regions where placement is problematic are Oshana, Erongo and Khomas. 

Steenkamp stated that government gave N$19 million for additional classrooms last year for the Erongo region. However, classrooms are not constructed overnight, irrespective of whether the government plans way in advance. 

“That was additional funding for additional classrooms. Every year, we sit with the same situation where people take it for granted that they will find a place. Yes, we will give every child a place in school, but it might not just be where the parents insist to have their children,” she stressed. 

Additionally, Government still pays for community-registered hostels, which are often situated on private farms or built by businesses or communities for children. The government pays N$22 per child per day to those facilities. 

2022-01-17  Albertina Nakale

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