San learners drop out of school to not walk long distance

12 Jun 2015 13:00pm
TSUMKWE, 12 JUN (NAMPA) – The Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture has expressed bitter concerns over long walking distances some San learners around Tsumkwe allegedly endure to reach a school.
Anna Hipondoka raised concerns in a public meeting at Tsumkwe on Thursday, where she has been since Wednesday on her official familiarisation visit to the Otjozondjupa Region.
She started her visit on Monday at Otjiwarongo, Grootfontein and concluded with Tsumkwe, where she held a one-on-one discussion with parents of school children at Kano Vlei Primary School (PS), Rooidag Gate and Grashoek Junior Primary Schools.
“What the parents told me is disturbing. Their children drop out of schools not because of a nomadic life they live. The real problem is the long distance these children walk to school and back home,” she said.
Hipondoka’s meeting with some parents on Wednesday revealed to her that some children at Kano Vlei walk approximately 50 kilometres just to reach the Omatako PS.
She said when these children reach schools or hostels from their homes, they are tired and once they return home for a weekend, they do not return to school due to the long distance.
This is the main disturbing concern that is possibly leading to a high school dropout rate amongst the San children in Tsumkwe Constituency, Hipondoka explained.
She said about 32 San children from Kano Vlei this year alone dropped out of Grade 5 at Omatako PS due to this alleged unbearable long walking distance.
She said a total of 35 learners last year passed Grade 4 at Kano Vlei PS and had the option to progress to Omatako PS for Grade 5 as Kano Vlei ends in Grade 4.
Hipondoka said that of the 35, 32 dropped out of school under the age of 11 years and are now at home doing nothing.
She also expressed unhappiness with the lack of hostel accommodation at many schools around the constituency while noting that most of the available hostels in the constituency are community built and do not meet standards for the ministry to accommodate children coming from far away villages.
“Parents made efforts to build these community hostels, the Ministry of Health and Social Services declared them unfit to accommodate learners, and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is also then forced not to support these facilities. Now tell me, who is to blame in this situation?” Hipondoka questioned.
She said those community hostels are not even supported by the Ministry of Works and Transport, despite the limited hostel facilities across the constituency.
The deputy also said drinking water for school learners at Rooidag Gate PS and Kano Vlei PS is also a problem as community members around these two schools share one water point with learners due to a lack of boreholes.
Hipondoka said at Rooidag Gate, the NamWater Corporation recently closed the water sources for the community after they failed to pay off their bills, and they are now fetching water at the school.
“How do you expect our ministry to perform with these challenges? I think it is high time Government ministries start supplementing each other for the social and economic development of this nation,” she said.
Hipondoka called on the business community across the country to now assist her in generating resources so that some challenges facing these San learners in Tsumkwe Constituency are resolved before the end of this year.
Acting Otjozondjupa Regional Education Director, Albertina-Peneyambeko Nangolo amongst others accompanied the Deputy Minister during her visit to Tsumkwe.
Tsumkwe is situated more than 260 kilometres east of Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa Region.