Teachers live in classrooms, storerooms in Kongola

04 Feb 2016 18:10pm
By Faith Sankwasa
BWABWATA, 04 FEB (NAMPA) – Teachers at three San community schools in the Zambezi Region’s Kongola Constituency live in classrooms and storerooms due to the lack of proper accommodation.
The schools are located at the Masambo, Omega 3 and Chetto settlements in the Bwabwata National Park.
Teachers who have their own accommodation are not much better off as they live in in mud-house structures.
During a visit by Nampa to the Masambo Primary School; Ndoro Memorial Combined School, and Kanduda Kaseta Junior Primary School on Tuesday, it was established that several of the teachers, as well as a principal and secretary, live at the schools.
The principal of Ndoro Memorial Combined School stays in a classroom, while his head of department (HOD) is housed in a storeroom.
The school has over 202 learners and about 15 teaching staff.
The learners, all of whom are San people, stay in two tents used as hostels. Because no beds or mattresses are provided, they sleep on the ground.
There are no wardrobes or other storage facilities for the learners’ clothes and personal belongings, and learners prepare their own meals in the tents.
To make matters worse, the borehole water the learners drink is not fit for human consumption. Teachers are provided with two tanks of clean water delivered on a routine basis from Katima Mulilo, over 200 kilometres away.
A visit to the primary school at Masambo revealed that the principal’s office is used as a classroom, while at Chetto, the secretary of the Kanduda Kaseta Junior Primary School lives in a storeroom as her house. The principal lives in a building that once served as a clinic for the community.
Asked for comment on the hardships the teaching staff and learners endure, the principal of Ndoro Memorial Combined School, only identified as Mr Sipopo, declined to speak to this news agency.
Masambo village headman Andala Ngendjo, speaking in Kwedam through a translator, said the teachers and learners live in deplorable conditions.
He said these schools are not connected to the electricity grid which passes through the park, adding this means there are no computers and other basic facilities.
The solar panels provided are only used for telephones and fax machines.
“How do you expect these learners to perform if they do not have facilities to support their lessons? The teachers are in the same predicament. We as the San community are being treated like wild animals,” said Ngendjo.
He said despite these issues, the school attained a 66 per cent pass rate last year compared to the 46 per cent recorded in 2014.
Ngendjo called on Royal /Ui /o/oo, deputy minister of Marginalised Communities in the Office of the Prime Minister, to visit the settlements and assess the situation at the schools so he can engage the necessary people to address the matter.
Also approached for comment was Zambezi Education Director, Austin Samupwa who confirmed the teaching staff housing challenge faced by the education ministry, saying the funds allocated to the directorate to address this need are not enough.
Samupwa said there are over 1 000 teachers in the Zambezi Region, with the majority of those in rural areas in dire need of houses to live in. In 2015, the directorate only had enough funds to build four houses for three teachers and a principal.
“The poor housing conditions teachers in Zambezi find themselves in are not unique to them. In the northern regions and neighbouring Kavango East and West, many of the teaching staff live in makeshift houses and mud structures.
“There is however a budget to build houses, but it is not enough to build a big number of houses at once. The budget is so little that in fact a year or two can pass without a house being built at a particular school,” he said.