San students in WHK demoralised to continue school

25 May 2015 17:30pm

WINDHOEK, 25 MAY (NAMPA) - Tertiary and vocational students from the San community say they are stigmatised and discriminated against, particularly by staff members working in the San Development Division (SDD) under the Office of the Vice-President. The students addressed the media on Friday, saying they are facing some challenges after moving to Windhoek from various villages to pursue their studies. These challenges include inadequate accommodation, transport, extra-mural activities, health and safety, as well as the late payment of bursaries by the SDD, and discrimination against them by staff working in that division. The students indicated that they need strong support from the media for their voices to be heard, adding that if these issues are not addressed immediately they will return to their villages without completing their studies. The media briefing was hosted by the //Ana-Jeh San Youth Project with support by the Women Leadership Centre. //Ana-Jeh, which means 'A New Light', is a new initiative started by the San students in Windhoek to promote education among San children and youth. The SDD provides scholarships to San students. This year, close to 17 students especially from Tsumkwe West and residing at Brakwater in the Khomas Region are recipients of the scholarships. The students expressed utmost gratitude towards the special programme for marginalised people by the Office of the Vice-President for giving them a chance at education, however more needs to be done in order for them to live their lives to their full potential. Daniel Gideon, who is studying Office Administration at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC), said the SDD promised to tour the students around the country for them to familiarise themselves with the country they live in. Many have never seen an aircraft, let alone other towns, and only know the villages they come from and Windhoek where they now reside. Gideon said that students were also promised to be taken home during holidays but so far, none of these promises are forthcoming. ?Some of us are on holiday for two weeks now but yet the SDD is just quiet,? he said. Students arrived from their villages in February and had to survive without a living allowance for two months; it was only awarded at the end of April this year. The San students make use of this allowance, ranging between N.dollars 1 000 and N.dollars 1 360, to buy stationary, pay for public transport to and from school, and to buy electricity. However, some students have still not received their allowances, making the living situation ?unbearable?. Beneficiary, Anna-Marie Ais told reporters that they have visited the Office of the Vice-President on numerous occasions and were told of ?human error that occurred?. ?We are in May now. I do not have stationary, we need to eat; I am a lady and I need toiletries. ?Why the living allowance is not being paid out is unknown but I would like to know why the money is being delayed,? Ais said sadly. This allowance, she added, helps them to survive at least until the end of the month. ?Our studies are affected. At times, we do not go to school because we are hungry. You have no energy to do your assignments and homework because there is no electricity for one to study at. ?It is very hard and we just want to know why we are being treated this way,? Ais questioned. The situation has demoralised them and many students now want to just drop out of school as they do not have even have family-support in the city. The students further lamented that the allowance is not even enough to cater for all their needs, stating that they spend about N.dollars 360 on public transport alone. ?The director of the programme, Gerson Kamatuka himself would tell us when we go there to enquire that 'San people can stay two months without eating'. He would also tell us that we are lucky to be here and to have something to buy clothes with. ?This affects us emotionally. How can a man in charge of the programme insult us,? said Tertu Fernado, who is studying at Triumphant College. She said the situation makes them feel as if they came from their villages just to be dumped here. Some of the students, she added, are orphans and have no one in the city they can go to and ask for money. ?These are insulting statements from the office. And yet if you fail school, you are out of the programme. But then how are you going to concentrate if you are emotionally abused and honestly hungry?? Fernando charged. Helena Oiva, who is a first-year student at WVTC, said her father passed away in March this year, and the San Development programme refused that she goes home to bury her father and to assist her with transport. She organised for money and transport herself to go bury the man, whom she regarded as her role model and provider. ?His death has really affected me but I have no one to talk to. The programme does not provide a councilor or social worker one can talk to when affected by such issues,? she said. The students said they are grateful for what the programme is doing for them but asked to be treated with dignity and respect and for their issues to be addressed immediately. (NAMPA) SL/ND/LI