OKAKARARA – The Waterberg Junior Secondary School management has failed to distribute new beds and mattresses that were delivered to the school last year, compelling scores of children in the school hostel to sleep on bare floors.
The school, which is located seven kilometres from Okakarara, has 350 learners of whom 280 live in the hostel.
The appalling conditions in which the children live in the hostel only came to light on Thursday last week after Okakarara Regional Councillor Vetaruhe Kandorozu paid a visit to familiarise himself with the living conditions of both teachers and learners at Otjituuo, Okaepe and Waterberg, as well as Okakarara.
During his whirlwind visit to the different schools Kandorozu was accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Education, as well as Works and Transport.
During the inspection at Waterberg Junior Secondary School, New Era found that close to 100 learners in the hostel had no beds and mattresses. Their blankets were spread on bare floors. It was also evident that supervision at both the girls and boys’ dormitories was virtually non-existent, because many learners were sleeping while others were attending classes.
When asked why they were not in class, some claimed that they were sick although the matrons knew nothing about their illnesses. There were two locked storerooms next to the kitchen, which Kandorozu ordered the supervisors to open.
Inside the storerooms were 50 new beds and 90 mattresses piled up to roof level. In the boys’ block, there was a broken toilet pot, while a brand new toilet pot stood in the storeroom.
When the councillor demanded to know why the children were sleeping on the floor, while there were unused beds and mattresses in the storerooms, no one was able to furnish a satisfactory answer.
Principal Eliah Nguarambuka denied any knowledge of the new beds and mattresses stored unused in the storerooms, claiming that he only assumed duty this year in February. Hostel supervisor Bethuel Ndjiruete admitted responsibility for storing the beds and mattresses, knowing that learners were sleeping on bare floors.
However, he blamed the chief hostel matron, Fugenesia Tjikuua, for failing to distribute the beds and mattresses to learners after ordering them from the Ministry of Education last year.
“I told the chief matron to divide the mattresses and beds last year already, but she did not do it. Even this year, I told her but they still did not do it,” Ndjiruete charged. Tjikuua also admitted that she knew about the beds and mattresses, as well as the toilet pot, which were locked away in storage.
“We do not have directives in place to issue beds and mattresses, because the kids are stealing beds and mattresses,” she attempted to justify her inaction. She also revealed that the hostel management unilaterally decided to charge N$100 per learner for a mattress.
The school matron said a boy who allegedly broke a toilet pot in their block had to buy the pot last year, but it has not yet been installed. The matron claimed that a request was sent through to the Ministry of Works and Transport to replace the toilet pot, but the school never received a response. A former artisan from the Ministry of Works and Transport at Okakarara, Jafet Amoomo denied having received such a request from the school.
Chrysanthus Ngongo, works inspector from the Ministry of Education in Otjiwarongo expressed disappointment with the manner in which the school hostel is managed.
“The school ordered these things last year and we delivered them at the same time. Now I am shocked that they have not been distributed to the learners,” Ngongo said.
The school was built in 1970 and caters for grades 8 to 10.