National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) councillor for Otjinene constituency and National Council member Erwin Katjizeu called for remedial work at schools in Otjinene Constituency in Omaheke region.
Katjizeu, the newest member to the august assembly, made this request last week while contributing to the Ministry of Education, Art and Culture budget motivation under review in the National Council.
He was picked by the Omaheke Regional Council to represent it in the National Council, following the resignation of former Swapo councillor for Phillipus Katamelo who joined the upper house of the National Assembly.
“We have four schools in Otjinene: three lower primary schools that are feeder schools to one senior Secondary School, with Grade 11 and 12 introduced in the past four years,” Katjizeu said.
He said these schools were built in the 1960s and 1970s with a lesser capacity meant to cater for a few learners back then but this number has increased significantly, leaving the area with the need for more classes.
“The school buildings are so dilapidated because of age; they really need a complete revamp from the government, especially the sewerage system that was designed for a few numbers of learners back in the days,” he said.
“Poor school infrastructure is one of the main factors impacting academic performances. Conditions at our schools in Otjinene are appalling, infringing on the right to quality education,” further stated Katjizeu.
He said the overcrowded classrooms and blocked toilets are the order of the day, putting learners’ health and safety at risk at the time of Covid-19.
“These learners come mainly from low income and rural families to attend poorly-equipped schools,” stated the Nudo councillor.
“We really need an equitable system in place where learners are receiving equal education across the country and treated equally – a system in which all learners are given the same opportunities, exposed to the same school curriculum, taught by teachers with equivalent expertise, held to the same learning expectations and provided with equivalent levels of resourcing and support from the government, which is not the case in our rural schools,” Katjizeu pleaded with fellow lawmakers.
He proposed a holistic and evidence-based model to inform decisions about investments in education infrastructure in the rural schools in the country, especially in Omaheke, where he can attest to.
“Our government should address this as a matter of urgency and include upgrading our rural schools in the next financial year’s budget. Education infrastructures are crucial elements to the learning environment in schools,” he said.
According to him, there is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction; it improves learner outcomes and it reduces the high dropout rates, amongst other benefits.
“Our rural schools are faced with so many challenges in education within our rural constituencies that, at times, we become hopeless of the future. Our communities live in high poverty that children come to school hungry or even malnourished – and this can interfere with a learner’s ability to learn,” said Katjizeu in his maiden speech.