ONEKUTA EAST - Learners at the Onekuta Junior Secondary School in the Ondobe circuit are gripped by fear of failure as their Physical Science and Mathematics teacher is nowhere to be seen. With the year-end examination looming, they have no idea of what they are going to write since they have not been taught anything, and they are afraid of failing the two subjects, just like the previous semester.
The man accused of perennial absence is Asser Naapandili Namalemo.
Approached for comment, Namalemo said he has no pending leave applications. “Forcing someone to do something is a crime,’’ he said, before seemingly complaining about his workload. Namalemo stressed that he is being forced to teach grade eight and grade 10 Mathematics and Physical Science classes, while he is not suitably qualified. “The pressure is just too much. I have written a letter to the principal, narrated all my problems and my health problems. But he never came back to me,” he narrated.
He further stated that the reason he skips classes is due to his poor health condition. “I have high blood pressure and diabetes, and the principal is fully aware. Should I really stay at school while I know I am not fine?”, he asked rhetorically. He said he always alerts his principal before leaving, or whether he would make it to school on a particular day. When New Era visited the school, teachers interviewed appeared to have gotten used to their colleague’s absenteeism.
On Monday, Namalemo was still not there, neither was the school principal. One of the teachers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the man in the spotlight has been skipping classes without submitting leave applications. However, the situation moved from bad to worse this academic year. “Namalemo would come to school twice a week. He would come at 10h00, and leave the school at 10h40 without saying a word. Sometimes, you will not see him at all,” said the teacher.
Namalemo’s colleagues furthermore stated that the school board and management are aware of the absenteeism, but no action was being taken. One teacher claimed that Namalemo was seen by community members drinking at cuca shops during working hours. “I did not see him drinking alcohol, but the school was informed by those who saw him,” said the teacher.
A grade 10 learner, Mirjiam Shikeva, said Namalemo teaches them Physical Science, but since the school started, they have only covered three topics.
She indicated that the examinations are about to start, and they are left with no option but to study on their own, as it is a thing of “if we fail, we fail”.
Ndilimeke Shikuwa, who is also in grade 10, said she was told that her teacher has been seen at cuca shops during teaching hours. “It is sad. What are we going to write? It is obvious that we are going to fail,” she lamented.
Another learner, Joseph Dombo, who is also in grade 10, mentioned that Namalemo is a good teacher, but “the problem is just the absence”.
Echoing their sentiments was Festus Nashihwa, who said Namalemo does not stay long at school.
“Sometimes, he does not show up in a good condition. You could tell he is not himself. He would beat us terribly,” he added. However, Namalemo denied being a binge drinker during school days. He admitted that he does imbibe, just not “to the extent of forgetting my name”. “Why are they only talking about me? If the principal also does the same, why are they not telling it as it is?” Namalemo wanted to know.
When approached for comment, education inspector for the Ondobe circuit Leena Iithindi said she was not in a position to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, education director in the Ohangwena region Isak Hamatwi is aware of the situation, but was waiting for a comprehensive report from Iithindi. Efforts to obtain comment from the school principal proved futile, as his number was not reachable at the time of going to print.