ONGWEDIVA – With school starting today, many parents yesterday flocked to uniform and stationery retailers to acquire the necessary items for their children in time for the beginning of the school year for 2019.
In addition to procuring school necessities, parents also flocked to schools to look for placements for their children especially for grades 1, 8 and 9.
School uniform retailers in the northern parts were full, with many having run out of stock.
But Raiment Wholesale, a uniform retailer in Ongwediva, indicated that they were fully prepared for the start of the year and had enough stock of uniforms.
Parents who were spotted procuring goods for their children particularly in the lower grades complained that the much appraised ‘free education’ is instead milking their pockets.
Parents claim that the money now used to procure stationery for learners cost much more than what they used to pay for school fees in the past.
Stationery procurement by the parents is only evident in schools in towns; parents in the villages are only required to purchase school uniforms.
A mother from Ogongo, who preferred that her name not be mentioned, said the prices for school uniforms are reasonable for lower grades for schools in the villages. However, they are too expensive for secondary schools that require designed uniforms, she added.
“The uniforms that we are made to buy from specific retailers are just too expensive – education is free, but it will further reduce the burden if government would also subsidise such uniforms,” related the mother.
Another parent Simon Shikongo, who was also spotted shopping for uniforms proposed that schools do away with the logos on the uniform so that parents who cannot afford such can buy material and have them tailored at their own cost.
With the parents feeling education is not entirely free, New Era has established that government does not channel the funds needed to purchase stationery to schools on time, a process that can hinder delivering quality education to learners.
Some of the parents who were still looking for admissions for their children included those who have relocated because of their jobs, and children of deceased parents or children who at their current premises do not have parental control.
“Some parents have just not applied for school at all,” said Immanuel Nepela of the newly completed Ongwediva Junior Secondary School.
The school, which previously operated from a dilapidated school building at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, is currently busy with relocations to the school situated along the main road to Ongwediva.
Some of the schools visited indicated they would only take in learners who have settled.