Schools Still Without Textbooks

WITH just two weeks left before the end of the second school trimester, many pupils in remote areas are reportedly still sharing textbooks because of the shortage that hit public schools in February.

The Namibian earlier reported that as a result of a delay in the awarding of the tender, printing, as well as packaging, many of the schools in most of the regions resumed the 2014 school year without enough textbooks for each learner, forcing them to share books, especially in remote areas.

Over 1 500 schools and 600 000 pupils countrywide were affected, and although the ministry has since made efforts to address the shortage, some schools are still grappling with the shortage.

Teachers are worried that the shortage of the textbooks, which forms part of the learning support materials, might hamper learners’ ability to adequately prepare for the exams.

Economic Development Committee member Uwe Rathmann, who recently conducted a survey on the shortage of textbooks in Otjozondjupa, said that the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) textbooks this year were only received in the region six to eight weeks into the first term, while other regions were still waiting for them by July.

Some of the textbooks that were delivered, were English, physical science and mathematics.

“On the aspects of the delayed massive regional tender, we requested for permission to do a new survey on the textbooks for our disaantaged schools,” said Rathmann.

Rathmann said that in a letter from the Office of the permanent secretary, Alfred Ilukena, permission was not granted.

“When I made enquiries about a possible answer from him, I learned that he delegated the letter to his deputy, who has not been in his office for over four weeks,” said Rathmann.

Rathmann said most of the textbooks from the regional tender for the school year 2014 only arrived at the schools during the examination time by the end of the second term.

“There are still subjects where the textbooks are outstanding from the South African suppliers,” he said.

According to Rathmann, inequality between the aantaged schools in the areas of regular income earners and the schools in low or no income earners has especially shown the availability and handling of textbooks.

“The aantaged schools had in our region a 1 : 1 learner : textbook ratio . In the disaantaged schools, more than half of the learners were not able to take textbooks home because they had to share them or they were not allowed for environmental conditions, to take textbooks into areas such as Blikkiesdorp,” he said.

That is the reason that I gave in my letter to the PS and the regional council. “As a result, I got some regions’ responses confirmed the negative situation at schools,” he said.

Ilukena and the education ministry spokesperson Johanna Absalom were not available to confirm Rathmann’s claim but the education minister David Namwandi yesterday said that he was not informed about the situation on the ground, but said he would investigate it.

“There are other contributing factors that are beyond the ministry’s control, but I will check with our supply chain management to ensure that these books are procured,” he said.

Namwandi also said that the objectives of the ministry was for every learner to be supplied with a textbook and that the ministry was working in collaboration with the MCA to ensure that every child has textbooks.

Source : The Namibian