It will require at least N$1.8 billion to construct over 5 000 classrooms countrywide, in order to address critical gaps in basic education.
Education minister Anna Nghipondoka made these revelations yesterday during a symbolic acceptance of the MTC rural schools project.
The newly launched project will allow MTC to partner with rural schools, with the objective of either building new classrooms or renovating existing structures, to ensure learning takes place in a conducive environment. MTC yesterday donated eight classrooms worth N$1.6 million.
MTC CEO Licky Erastus said the company would immediately construct classrooms at Sinzogoro Combined School outside Rundu in the Kavango West region as well as Okondaune Primary School situated outside Opuwo in Kunene.
The company will construct four classrooms at each school. MTC intends to finalise the project by the end of September 2020 and help more schools that are in need in 2021.
“Our focus and attention will be any rural school across the country that are in dire need of assistance and we will liaise with the ministry to guide and advise which schools should be next in line,” Erastus stated.
MTC has already appointed contractors to start the project as soon as possible. Nghipondoka said under the new normal presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry is greatly challenged with a lack of classrooms, dilapidated and inadequate ablution facilities and learners squatting due to lack of hostel spaces.
She added this, in turn, means that some safety measures like social distancing in classrooms and hostels will prove difficult to implement if such challenges are not addressed immediately and collectively.
“The latest statistics show that we need 5 169 more classrooms and if we are to provide the said classrooms, the ministry would require an amount of over N$1.8 billion to construct them,” said Nghipondoka.
“This would also mean that each of these classrooms would need a teacher, furniture, and stationaries amongst others.
At the present moment, the ministry is not in a position to provide these additional needs and more so, not as soon as it would be required.”
According to her, there is a cumulative backlog of about 94 hostels in all regions. Furthermore, she said, there is a growing number of learners who are squatting around schools due to the long distances they have to travel from home to school. In response to Covid-19, the ministry has made available N$600 million for the renovation and expansion of schools and hostels infrastructure to meet the prescribed health protocols to allow learning to continue uninterrupted.
However, Nghipondoka said, the implementation within the given timeframe proved to be a challenge. Therefore, she stressed the urgent need for especially the private sector to redouble efforts and join the government in its continued strive to provide school infrastructure at a standard ready to survive any state of emergency like Covid-19.
Nghipondoka used the occasion to denounce and condemn individuals who allegedly are hellbent to tarnish the efforts of the ministry and its partners. “Of late, we have seen a very disturbing trend mushrooming in our society where you have individuals and organisations who go out of their way to tarnish and dilute the hard work being put in by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and its strategic partners by parading false information and propaganda on social media.
I strongly denounce and condemn such actions in the strongest terms possible,” she reacted. -email@example.com