San Learners Attend Classes Standing

Uutsathima villagers in Okahao Constituency in Omusati Region are downcast because of the sorry state of the school for San learners that does not have classroom furniture.

San learners from far away villages were purposely taken into the school, as part of government’s efforts to get as many San people educated as possible.

The school has learners from local tribal groups too, but it is predominantly for San learners.This state of affairs at the school compels learners to attend classes for up to 90 minutes non-stop on their feet while some learners squat and use their laps as desks.

Uutsathima Combined School, which is a government school, is situated deep in the forests of Ongandjera, about 80km from Okahao.

The severely under-equipped school that has Grade 1 to 10 has an enrolment of over 300 learners and 12 teachers.

Most of the learners at the school are from the San community and are from distant villages, which is why they are accommodated at the so-called community school.

However, most of the learners at this school attend their lessons while standing because the school does not have enough furniture.

Some teachers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, confirmed the situation at their school to New Era, maintaining that teaching and learning at the school have become extremely difficult.

“When you have a double period, learners especially those that are in Grades 5 to 9 have to stand for the whole 90 minutes. Because one period lasts for 45 minutes,” a teacher told New Era. “Grade 5 has 60 leaners but there are only two or three chairs in good condition, so we teach while learners are standing and sometimes they write using their laps as tables. It is a bad situation but there is nothing much that we can do as teachers.”

Apart from furniture, the school has a hostel but it does not have a kitchen or a dining hall. This prompted the school to give up one of the classrooms for use as a kitchen and erected a shack, which they now use as a classroom.

Learners are forced to take their meals in the open and this happens even during winter and rainy seasons, the teachers said.

At times classes are postponed or suspended if the weather is too bad for the learners to stay outside for breakfast or lunch.

Teachers also have to spend their free time outside, as there are also no offices for staff members or an administration block.

“The hostel is constructed in a manner I myself don’t understand with old and unhygienic showers outside. The school and the hostel does not have toilets and kids are forced to relieve themselves in the bushes,” said a community member. Acting Director of Education in Omusati Region Laban Shapange said the situation at Uutsathima Combined School has already been reported to his office and an education officer was already sent to assess the situation.

“It was reported to me that the school does not have a dining hall and a kitchen, but I’m not aware that they do not have chairs. I will talk to the inspector in this regard,” he said.

According to him, at the moment assessment is being carried out to see how best the situation can be resolved at the school.

Source : New Era