NKURENKURU -Teachers at Satotwa Primary School in Kavango West have become modern-day messiahs as out of compassion they are using their own resources to feed hostel learners at the rural school with a high pupil truancy and a drop-out rate.
The school has in the past experienced a high drop-out rate and high absenteeism of learners because many cannot endure long distances they had to walk to and from school every school day. In some cases many students come to school on empty stomachs because of poverty.
“We had been experiencing a challenge regarding the statistics of learners. Learners were experiencing problems of attending classes because they were coming from distant villages,” said Klemens Mpande a teacher who had been at the school since from the time it did not have a hostel to cater for learners and to mitigate the long distances.
This, Mpande said led to a parents’ meeting in early 2016 to set up a hostel a community-driven project that was successfully implemented.
Nonetheless, the teacher said there was little or no support towards the hostel by some parents. This forces teachers to make monthly contributions from their monthly salaries to cater for the learners in the hostel.
The money contributed can only afford to buy them food such as the locally harvested vegetable mutete, cabbage, cooking oil and bags of maize meal which at least can see them through to the next payday when they have to make another contribution.
He said government’s drought relief food rations distributed to San learners and school feeding programme also helps them to feed learners from impoverished families.
Mpande also expressed concern that the food rations dished out through the school feeding programme reaches them late, sometimes in the middle of the term.
When this reporter arrived at the hostel, some hostel learners could be seen eating soft porridge for lunch served in two big bowls - one for the girls and the other for the boys.
The teachers have also bought cooking and eating utensils being used at the hostel.
“The staff have also managed to buy matrasses for learners because some parents are not able to buy matrasses for their children,” he said.
The mattresses are however, getting old and they will need to be replaced.
The hygiene officer at the school, Hertha Sikuvi has to do an extra job by attending to her duties at the school and assisting at the poorly resourced hostel.
“My work at the school as a hygiene officer but I still volunteer at the hostel. My work is to assist the learners with cooking,” said Sikuvi.
There are 68 learners staying in the hostel made up of six makeshift structures.
* Stefanus Nambara is an information officer in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) stationed at Nkurenkuru in Kavango West
2019-08-08 07:02:10 15 days ago