Education challenged by facilities amidst COVID-19

Under the new normal presented by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MoEAC) is greatly challenged with lack of classrooms and dilapidated and inadequate ablution facilities, Minister Ester Nghipondoka has said.

Speaking at the launch of the MTC Rural School Project symbolic acceptance ceremony of eight classrooms worth N.dollars 1.9 donated by MTC here on Thursday, Nghipondoka said some safety measures like social distancing in classrooms and hostels will prove difficult to implement if the challenges of lack of facilities are not addressed immediately and collectively.

She noted that the latest statistics show that the ministry needs 5 159 more classrooms worth N.dollars 1.8 billion for construction.

“This means that each of these classrooms will need a teacher, furniture and stationery amongst others. At the present moment the ministry is not in a position to provide these additional needs and more so, not as soon as it would be required,” said Nghipondoka.

The minister further noted that currently there is a cumulative backlog of about 94 hostels in all regions, noting that there is a growing number of learners squatting around schools due to the long distances they have to travel to school.

She added that the current situation of learners staying in unsafe environments is a big concern to the ministry and there is a need to provide hostel facilities at schools where there are a big number of learners squatting, which puts their lives and education prospects at risk.

“For the girl learner, this is a serious challenge as it greatly contributes to teenage pregnancy and learner dropouts.”

Nghipondoka said a pandemic like COVID-19 should serve as an eye-opener to all stakeholders towards the need to always make contributions toward the betterment of teaching and learning environments for the Namibian child.

MTC Chief Executive Officer Licky Erastus said the project will allow MTC to partner with rural schools with the objective of building new classrooms to ensure that learners study in a protected and conducive environment.

He noted that the first classrooms to be constructed under the project are for Sizongoro Combined School in the Kavango West Region and Okondaune Primary School in Opuwo in the Kunene Region.

“It is our intention to finalise this project by end of September 2020 and help more schools that are in need in 2021,” said Erastus.

Source: Namibia Press Agency