Great Joy Over Free Secondary Education

Parents in Windhoek, Omusati and Kavango could not contain their joy stemming from government’s announcement that all secondary school learners would receive free education by 2016.

Meme Klaudia Shoodi and meme Helmi Hango from Otamanzi village in Omusati Region who are both unemployed mothers said they had not been aware of the president’s announcement on free secondary education until a New Era reporter approached them for comment.

“If tatekulu [Hifikepunye] Pohamba was right next to me, I would ululate. I’ll shake his hand and I will dance for him. That is the best news I have heard in a very long time,” said an elated Shoodi.

Shoodi has a daughter in Grade 11 at Onesi Senior Secondary School. She said over the years she paid school fees by making and selling traditional marula oil, or by selling her pigs if her financial situation worsened.

Hango, a pensioner whose last born is in Grade 8 at Otamanzi Combined School was equally excited. She said she used to pay N$90 per year in school fees for her daughter.

“Our government is so good to us. We are getting free food and now education is also free. Who am I not to be happy?” she said.

Levi Nambala, an unemployed father of seven, said his children attend school in Windhoek and each child costs him N$800 per year in school fees.

“I heard over the radio that secondary education is also for free now, I am very excited. Now I only have to buy school uniforms and pay tranport. May God bless our president,” he said.

Nambala said that he and his unemployed wife have managed over the years to pay their children’s school fees by selling mahangu and some of their livestock.

Nambala said even though they have been struggling to make end meets, they decided to invest in the their children’s education by sending them to government schools in Windhoek where they believe that education is better compared to the public schools at their village.

Tresia Haishongo (37) a parent in Windhoek said: “I think it is a very good thing, now our burden has been cut, we only have to buy uniforms and food. That will be a very good saving for us. Some parents with lots of children were struggling to pay their children’s school fees but now that schooling is going to be free is a blessing. Some of us did not finish our education because we did not have money. But now learners will not have any excuse not to finish their education. Thanks to our government.” Timoteus Nepembe (44) another parent in Windhoek said: “That is good news, considering the government has just saved us from debt. I was having doubts on how I am going to pay for my children’s school fees but now hearing that just makes me happy. The government has done something worth thanking it for and I am thankful for that. They just resolved a serious problem.”

Ellex Shimwino (26) another parent in Windhoek said: “Secondary education was a bit expensive and not everyone could afford it. So now that it is going to be free means education for all, even for the poor. Children will have no excuse to drop out of school unless they do not want to go to school.

“I salute the government,” said Shimwino.

Thomas Immanuel (30) who is also a parent, reacted: “I remember not attending school in 1995 because my parents could not afford to pay my school fees, it was not good and I know what children go through now when parents cannot pay their school fees. So since primary school is already free and now that secondary school is going to be free means free education in Namibia and that is really good. Thumbs up to the government.”

Eelu Gotlieb (26) a police officer, said: “It is a good idea but what will happen to the quality of education – will it not be quantity over quality? The schools are already struggling to keep up with the current expenses.”

Louisa Amuntale (22) a student said: “I think it is a good idea. Most learners drop out because their parents cannot afford to pay their fees. Now they have no excuse not to attend class.”

Rhoide Uugulu (29) a teacher said: “This so-called free education it is not actually free. It is funded by taxpayers’ dollars. So you can think of free education as something that you pay for. Just watch out, come 2016 we will experience high income tax rates. I wonder if learners will appreciate their ‘free education’ and study hard. Learners may be lazy in their studies because of free education. If parents … struggle to pay for their children’s school fees, they may study harder. They would study harder because their school fees are being paid for with their parents’ hard earned money.”

The Deputy Director of Education in the Kavango West and East regions, Fanuel Kapapero, said: “As a deputy director of education in the two Kavango regions I think that is a positive move by our president, as most of our schools in Kavango are mostly in rural areas where we have a lot of combined and secondary schools in the rural Kavango West and East. Most of our parents are subsistence farmers who don’t earn much to really pay school fees for their children. That is quite a big relief for many parents and it’s also good for us as schools will be able to fund their own development as well as books for learners once the government provides money for the schools. We have seen what free primary education has done. Now primary schools are using the money from the government to do minor renovations at their schools and buy school stuff that benefit learners.”

The deputy education director added: “It will also mean that many will come back to school as now they are welcome for free, without troubles of school fees that push a lot of our disaantaged children out of school.”

“It is reported that parents are being told a lot of bad things when they want to register their children without school fees by various teachers and school principals, though they negotiate to pay over time. That is why some don’t take their kids to school, they have fear of negotiating with schools because of the bad language they encounter when doing so and they feel embarrassed, and now they will feel welcomed and happy to send their children back to school,” he said.

Source : New Era