EENHANA – Education minister Anna Nghipondoka says the current admission policy used for secondary schools and which allows learners to freely apply to schools of their choice needs to change and rather restrict them to apply to schools within their localities.
According to Nghipondoka, with the reformed curriculum, the ministry needs to get away with the application policy except schools offering specific fields of studies.
She made the remarks when she met with the Ohangwena regional leadership, following a request from the Eenhana Senior Secondary School management calling on government to urgently intervene in the plight of accommodation after many years of waiting for hostel facilities.
School principal Makarius Shoopala said his school is compelled to admit learners who could not be admitted at other schools.
This, he said, becomes a challenge as the majority of learners are not from the surrounding areas.
“Since learners are free to apply to schools of their choice, unfortunately, for our school, we do not receive applications. The parents also have a choice on where they want to take their children. In the end, they opt for top-performing schools. During the admission process, schools would make a choice of their learners –and since we don’t get applications, we are likely to get leaners who could not be admitted elsewhere,” stressed Shoopala.
Due to the revised curriculum, the school now offers grade 10-12, with an enrolment of close to 800 leaners. Shoopala further stressed that having no accommodation facilities has hampered the school performance. He said during 2014/15, the school was notified through its directorate that it is one of the schools earmarked for capital projects to receive hostel facilities – but unfortunately, nothing has been done yet.
“I can recall feasibility studies and ground testings were done at the school; however, up to this stage, the school remains in the dark, while the learners continue to suffer under harsh circumstances. This contributes to poor performance, high absenteeism, high dropout and pregnancy rates, among others,” said the concerned Shoopala.
The regional director of education, Isaack Hamatwi, said due to budget cuts, the region only managed to carry on with projects at three other schools in the region.
“The feasibility study for Eenhana SS came in late; as a result, it had to be put on hold. However, the construction will be done but it will depend on availability of resources,” stated Hamatwi.
Addressing management this week, Nghipondoka said the current admission policy is a national issue; therefore, the ministry needs to work a new admission policy to secondary school to complement the new curriculum.
She stressed that some learners apply to schools that are distant, yearning for freedom by being away from their parents and guardians, but they end up suffering with accommodation if such schools do not have accommodation, while some are attracted by the good performance of such schools.
She also touched on the issue of certain schools always taking in best learners, leaving the poorly performing ones for others, saying it needs to come to an end.
“This whole situation will force us to change the admission policy, especially with the reformed curriculum where we have many schools elevated to senior secondary in the villages, where we can say ‘I have given you a secondary school because I have identified all other schools around you who will be your feeder schools, where children will be from their own parental homes until they finish. Let us look into our admission policy. This cannot work anymore, especially with the reformed curriculum. We need to do school mapping and plan accordingly,” said Nghipondoka.
She assured the Eenhana school management that the hostel will be constructed when resources permit.
“Your hostel is coming – but for now, let’s work on the admission policy. Let’s do what we can with the little we have,” said Nghipondoka.