February 17, 2015, 9:01am
Inside Negumbo Senior Secondary School ... Braving the chilly weather at Negumbo SSS
THE 400-plus pupils of Negumbo Senior Secondary School about 50 kilometres from Oshakati brace the chilly weather without shivers.
The school holds its morning devotion at 06h30 on Mondays and Fridays in the open because there is no assembly hall.
Principal Iiyambo Alugongo says the lack of a school hall is one of the many challenges they face, and would like to overcome.
Neatly dressed, some pupils wear jerseys, while others wear school shirts and pants only.
Although I am wearing a jacket, I can still feel the cold wind of the early morning hours.
“This is not cold, come in June or July, it is worse,” Alugongo says. “The only option is the dining hall, but we cannot use it because it always needs to be cleaned up after breakfast at 06h00 in the morning.”
The devotion kicks off with a hymn, and one pupil moves to the podium to read the scripture. When the pupil steps down, another comes up to deliver the day's prayer.
Meameno Kayofa, who teaches agriculture and life science, says the pupils take turns chairing the devotion according to classes.
I observed that some girls have neatly shaved heads; others have their hair plaited, while there are also those who have their hair pulled back, and a few more with hair neatly tied.
“It is not a rule to have cornrows. It is probably just their preference. We, however, do not allow weaves or braids. They can plait any style as long as it is done with natural hair,” said Alugongo in a light but asserting voice.
Sylvia Uutoni, a Grade 12 pupil, said she supports the hairstyle rule without any regret. Her sentiments were echoed by her fellow pupils.
“We do not need to style our hair. It only requires us to apply hair food and brush it. It does not take more than three minutes. This saves time,” Uutoni said.
Attending a physical science lesson in an old but maintained class, I didn't feel so smart. The lesson lasted for 40 minutes. The pupils asked questions and made comments on a subject that sounded ancient to me, although I learned it only a few years ago. The lesson for the day was Ohm's law.
The teacher, Simon Haidula (not related to me) speaks in a soft tone and tries to engage the pupils. When they ask him complex scientific questions which cannot be answered immediately, he promises to bring the demonstration to class the following day.
Haidula said he has been a mathematics and science teacher at the school since 2008. He said one of the biggest challenges is using the small laboratory which only accommodates 15 pupils at a time.
“Last year, we had 96 pupils doing higher level science. Since the lab can only take 15 pupils at a time, they wrote their exams from eight in the morning until eight in the evening.
“It can accommodate 45 pupils for lessons per period, but that means you will have to do one experiment per table, because if you stand in front, those at the back will not be able to see,” he said.
Haidula said teachers should stay on the school premises so that they can make it to school on time and engage with the pupils at any given time.
There is visible discipline when the 479 pupils move to their respective classrooms in utter silence. They remain inside waiting for their teachers, without having to be forced to attend their lessons.
Alugongo, who has been at the helm of the school since 2006, said although there is no written law, they encourage the girls not to wear short skirts.
The girls, when asked, said: “It should be four fingers below the knee.”
Tuyeimo Haidula: The Namibian