Rundu - Amid challenges of overcrowding, lack of staff and teaching material, the Ndama Combined School in Rundu has refused to allow circumstances to hold back its learners and found a way to thrive.
For the past five years, the school has been the best performing state school in the Kavango East region. It was ranked in the third position in 2018, rallying behind St Boniface College and Rukonga Vision School. The school has a population of 2 652 learners in grades 4 to 9, who are taught by 49 teachers.
In an interview, school principal Fillipine Munkanda attributed the school’s success to hard work, the commitment of the teachers and perseverance.
“Our motto is to strive for the best and we stick to that,” she added.
Although the school is understaffed, Munkanda said they do what they are expected to do. “We offer extra classes to our learners during weekdays and over weekends. It is not the school’s objective to make it compulsory but we encourage teachers to use this time to complete the syllabus. At our school, we make sure that by June all the work is done so that as from July, we only focus on revision,” she said.
Mukanda further acknowledged that the school is overcrowded. “Teachers often come to me saying their classes are too full, but I advise them we have to work with the full classes; we cannot send learners back.”
She said at times they have classes with up to 114 learners. This situation forced teachers to devise a plan in which they divide the learners into groups. One group attends during the week, while the other attends over the weekend. Some teachers conduct their lessons and extra classes on Sundays after church.
Education deputy minister Anna Nghipondoka during her regional address meeting with school principals encouraged school leaders to improvise.
“We are still fighting to get funds for chairs and other materials, but you should also find out whether you can enter into an agreement with Rundu Vocational Training Center (RVTC) to repair broken chairs at your various schools at a minimal fee,” she advised. The minister admitted the sector is indeed facing serious challenges but these should not deter them. Adding that the government cannot do it alone; it needs a collective approach from all sectors of education. She further urged school principals to be leaders who are solution-driven, instead of always complaining.
Former learner of the school and now teacher Petrus Mbimbi called upon Good Samaritans, business people and the community to help the school with chairs and desks, as well as building material to construct structures needed at the school, such as a staff room, classrooms and a school hall.
The school has an ongoing project where parents contribute a certain fee towards the construction of ablution facilities.