Crowded classroom a headache for authorities in Zambezi

Parents in the Zambezi region have raised concerns about the

overcrowding of learners at different public schools in the rural and urban districts of the Zambezi Region.

Some parents who spoke to Nampa during the first day of the school calendar for 2015 on Wednesday, attributed the overcrowding of learners as the root cause of the high failing rates often experienced.

The learner ratio per teacher in Namibia is 1:35, however some schools have recorded as many as 44 learners in one classroom.

According to Gertrude Silibaiba, a mother of Grade 3 learner at Liselo Combined School, overcrowding has been a yearly occurrence that is yet to be addressed by the Ministry of Education Directorate at Zambezi Region.

“Overcrowding in classrooms affects the learning ability of children as teachers cannot cope. The yearly enrolments at schools has left teachers with as many as 42 learners at one time. As a parent, wonder how your child is being taught under such stressful circumstances,” Silibaiba said.

However, Liselo Combined School Principal, Shadrack Mowa told Nampa that overcrowding of classrooms at his institution is not a crisis ,as the teachers will be able manage.

Mowa said the only classroom space proving a challenge is the pre-primary level, which normally takes 25 children aged below five years-old.

Currently, 37 learners are enrolled in this grade. In Grade 10, about 40 learners can be admitted but only 37 have been registered.

“The sitting capacity in some classes is manageable but in another cases it is a concern. Of the learners that we could no longer accommodate in desired grades, we drafted their names on a list to be sent to the Education directorate who will find them space at other schools,” Mowa said.

At Masokotwani Combined School, Acting Principal and Head of Department, Maurice Simenda said the Grade 10 class ballooned to 46 this year, compared to 30 enrolled in 2014.

Simenda said the lower primary, which is made up of Grade 1 to 4, is overcrowded as there are 204 learners registered.

“Our Grade 10 enrolment went up because we re-registered our previous learners who failed to attain the pass mark into Grade 11 in 2014. The Grade 8 classes are also full because we had to register those from neighboring school that do not have the higher grades.

Ngweze Secondary School Principal, Grace Mahoto said her school population stands at more than 756. Mahoto said Grade 9,10 and 12 are full to capacity, while Grade 8 learners are still registering as many were provisionally admitted based on their Grade 7 October results for 2014.

“The sitting space is unbearable in some cases but we will do best of the situation. We cannot turn children away, except those wishing to repeat Grade 10 but are now over the age limit of 17 years-old.