17 Feb 2015 15:40pm
KATIMA MULILO, 17 FEB (NAMPA) The Ministry of Education was not aware of any tent schools in the Zambezi Region, and therefore had not budgeted to render any assistance during the current financial year.
The Education Permanent Secretary (PS) Alfred Ilukena told Nampa on enquiry Tuesday that the ministry only became aware that there are still hundreds of learners being taught in tents, when the story broke in the local newspapers recently.
Ilukenas comments follow a report by this agency a few weeks ago on the situation at the Mpacha Primary School, located 15 kilometres south of Katima Mulilo, which only had one tent to accommodate all 43 learners, principal and teachers.
The school, which was set up in January 2014, still does not have toilets, no clean running water or water tank, no electricity, no telephone and no playground equipment for its learner population, while textbooks and teaching material are stored in a guarded hut at a nearby village.
This reporter has since established that there are other tent schools located at Kongola, Chinchimani, Sangwali and Bukalo, which were set up between 2013 and 2014.
We really did not know that there are schools made up of tents in the Zambezi Region, until the story was reported by various media houses.
If we had known about the situation of the Mpacha Primary School towards the end of 2014, we would have made arrangements using the capital project budget to get them a permanent structure before the current academic year commenced, he said.
Ilukena said that at this stage it is difficult to get funds to build brick structures for the school, because a period of three months is needed to redirect money to and from that budget.
The PS used the platform to say that the situation of tent schools might not just be limited to the Zambezi Region, as some other areas have been known to quickly set up schools without proper planning.
Ilukena explained that this is because the education head office is rarely informed of what regional directorates are planning.
The problem at the head offices is that we do not know what regions are planning. That information is best known by the education directors, he said.
To come up with a school, one needs proper planning, said the PS, adding that he does not know if those tent schools in the rural parts of any region were properly planned for or they just sprouted overnight.
This is why we now expect all directorates of education and their divisions responsible for planning to priorities from the resources given to them, so they see what can be done to replace those tents, zinc or mud structures, Ilukena said.