91 Pupils Withdrawn From School Over Fee Increase

DISGRUNTLED parents in Omusati region have withdrawn 91 children from Ambrosius P Amutenya Private School after a fee increase from N$450 to N$1 000 per month.

The school now has 72 pupils left and if the threats being made by some parents materialise, more pupils will be withdrawn leading to a possible closure of the school.

An affected parent told The Namibian that the increase was announced during a meeting with the parents on 7 March this year and that parents had to start paying the N$1 000 from end of March.

A member of the school board, Andreas Anguuo, told The Namibian that they decided to increase the fees to pay teachers salaries and other benefits in line with what their colleagues at government schools in the country are getting.

“To do this, one has to increase the school fee. That is the only source although the school receives a small subsidy from government. This private school is one of the best in Okahao. So we need to look after them [the teachers] otherwise we will lose them,” Anguuo said.

He also said some parents agreed to the creation of the private school and are willing to pay the new fees.

“I think there are some parents who want to destroy the school and are coming up with the excuse of the fee increase,” Anguuo added. The Namibian understands that Omusati region deputy director of education Loide Shatiwa was called to the school for a meeting with parents on 11 March this year.

Some parents who spoke to The Namibian said Shatiwa sided with the board over the increase and said that those parents who cannot afford the N$1 000 can apply to government schools for their children.

Shatiwa said she cannot comment on matters involving a private school.

She said it would be better for The Namibian to speak to the owners of the school or the board of trustees since they run the school.

One of the parents who have withdrawn their children, Maria Ekandjo, said many other parents have also withdrawn their children from the school.

“This is something unfair, unbearable and a kind of a severe punishment to an innocent person,” Ekandjo said, calling on the government to intervene.

She said the school is not supposed to be private but a community school because the land where it was built on was donated by the community free of charge and that parents collected money for the construction.

“It is not a private school. It is a community school. Some clever people have betrayed us and robbed us of our school in a cunning way,” Ekandjo said, adding that she had two children at the school and had to pay N$2 000 per month.

She also said one of her children is at the University of Namibia in Windhoek and was paying for accommodation and transport.

“It is not only me. There are many other parents like me with more than one child at Ambrosius Amutenya Private School who have been forced by the situation to take their children out,” Ekandjo explained.

Luckily, she said, the children who were taken away from this private school were admitted at State schools in the town of Okahao and surrounding areas.

Ekandjo further told The Namibian, that even after the start of the school two weeks or so ago, some parents have taken away their children from the school, bringing the number of children still at the school down considerably.

She said some parents who held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the issue further, resolved to stick to the suggestion of paying N$600 per child per term.

According to Ekandjo, the parents have invited members of the board and chosen one parent Jesaja Ekondo to speak for them.

The community is also concerned that the school could close down if all the children are withdrawn. Twelve teachers and two cleaners stand to lose their jobs.

A community member who did not want to be identified said something should be done to salvage the situation.

“This is a shocking situation. There must be some means of intervention from government to rescue the situation. Children have the right to education and it is unfair to leave them in the cold,” the community member said.

Source : The Namibian