WINDHOEK - Education, Arts and Culture executive director Sanet Steenkamp has urged all regional directorates and schools to study their environment and demographic circumstances in order to make an informed arrangement on the official operational time of their respective schools during the winter season.
This follows concerns raised by some parents who wanted to know whether the ministry will give a directive for schools to ensure they adjust their wintertime operations accordingly to avoid school-going children walking in the dark, as was done the past several years.
Parents who are unable to afford transportation for their children to school feel it is really unsafe for children to be walking in the dark in the morning.
The Namibian Time Act, 1994 (Act No. 3 of 1994) which deals with changes of the time zone was repealed and replaced with the Namibian Time Act, 2017 (Act No. 9 of 2017).
This means that all regions in the country are to observe one time zone regardless of the change in seasons.
As a ministry, Steenkamp said, they are fully cognizant of the unintended consequences of this legislative development to the safety of some learners and also its implications to school operations, especially in relation to the commencement and end of the school day.
Therefore, she confirmed, the ministry issued some guidelines on operational hours for schools during wintertime.
By applying such guidelines, she explained, the various individual schools through their regional management structures can opt or elect to introduce flexible starting time for the official business of their school.
She noted the ministry has issued some guidelines to schools for adoption based on their individual circumstances or school environment setting, such as rural areas, most populous environments, farm schools, schools with double shifts.
This, she says, is to ensure the safety and security of learners and staff at all times.
“It should however be noted that it’s difficult to provide uniform guidelines to all schools as each region has its own different environmental circumstances and demography. All schools are thus expected to inform their respective regional offices of the appropriate operations hours which they will opt to implement during the winter season,” Steenkamp said.
According to her, some of the considerations to be made by schools during wintertime include schools adjusting their starting time from 07h00 to 07h30, thereby avoiding learners travelling when it is too dark and risky.
In the rural areas, she said, schools may commence teaching at 08h00 or 08h30, in order to allow learners to travel when there is enough light, except probably in the case where schools engage in double shifts, which compels these schools to commence teaching early enough for an equal share of the available time.
Equally, she noted provision for schools to start at 12h00 is granted in instances where a double shift system is practised to accommodate the high learner population.
In schools where double shifting is applicable, Steenkamp directed that schools ensure that learners attending morning classes and afternoon classes receive the same quality of teaching and learning time.
She however urged all parents, guardians and learners to at all times take precautionary measures, such as children to walk in groups to and from school and avoid using riverbeds or isolated routes to minimise their exposure to threats.
Moreover, she reported that so far they have not registered any significant challenges due to the change in the said legislation.
According to her, the minor challenges are mainly due to individual preferences of stakeholders, in particular parents and guardians, which may be in conflict with the interest of the broader education fraternity.
“We are however happy to note that teaching and learning was not negatively affected and many of our schools have recorded positive results for the previous academic year. We further appeal to the regional offices and schools to use the maximum time available for the improvement of teaching and learning in our schools,” stated the executive director.
2019-05-23 08:36:05 26 days ago