To buy or not to buy school stationery
The debate on parents buying school stationery for their children attending public schools resurfaced with the start of the school calendar yesterday, when learners received their first list of stationery requirements.
Some schools also asked parents to pay school development fund fees, contrary to the free primary education policy rolled out by the education ministry.
A number of school principals yesterday told this newspaper they are forced to ask parents to buy stationery because government supplies are either late and when they arrive, they are invariably insufficient.
Many of the principals were not willing to talk on record. But the principal of MH Greeff Primary School, George Kandetu, said: “Government words and the reality on the ground are totally different; the government gives us a budget which is not sufficient for all learners. In this regard we had a meeting with parents and it was agreed that a list of stationery should be sent to parents who can afford them.”
Pionierspark Primary School in Pionierspark, MH Greeff in Khomasdal, Emma Hoogenhout Primary School in Hochland Park, and Suiderhof Primary School in Suiderhof were some of the schools that asked parents to purchase stationery.
Minister of Education Dr David Namwandi was livid when contacted for comment, saying schools are going against government directives and they should stop their “evil deeds” with immediate effect.
“No, no, no! This is totally unacceptable and as long as I am with this ministry no child [up to] Grade 7 is to be charged for stationery,” he said.
“If the principals and teachers want to be in the good books with the ministry, then they must adhere to the directives. This is not a threat. Let anybody try and see. If they have given parents any list, then they must withdraw such stationery lists with immediate effect. And if they charged money, then they must refund it back,” said Namwandi.
Nevertheless, Kandetu said the MH Greeff Primary School lists of stationery are only for parents able to afford the items. “As we are speaking now I have given directives to all the teachers to come up with a list of those learners in their classes without stationery so that we can provide them with stationery,” he said.
Kandetu stresses that buying stationery is voluntary and no parents are forced.
In 2012 the late Dr Abraham Iyambo the then minister of education announced that as from 2013 all primary education would be free.
“No government schools are allowed to ask parents to pay for stationery. I am talking about grades 0 – 7. I am sending this warning to every school that nobody should charge parents a single cent in public schools,” said Namwandi.
Meanwhile, President Hifikepunye Pohamba last year announced that government is considering announcing free secondary education in public schools by the year 2016.
By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa New Era – Additional reporting Albertina Nakale