School Runs Out of Cash

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Surihe Gaomas OKAHANDJA There is fear that the only school in the Five Rand Camp outside Okahandja could be closed down due to lack of money. The Five Rand Primary School, which was established in the squatter camp only last year, is already experiencing financial problems. Should the school be closed, close to 300 learners will be affected. With the increase in demand by more children, the lack of classrooms and money makes it ever so difficult for the school’s management to keep the school going. Principal of the school Victor Nakapandi said there was a dire need for classrooms as some of the learners are being taught under trees and in storerooms. “We need help because we are really out of cash right now,” said the worried principal. He explained that his greatest fear is that without assistance or donations from businesses, they would be unable to run all activities of the school. For instance, one class accommodates both grades 1 and 2 learners, while the Grade 5 classroom has a total of close to 50 children, thus making teaching difficult. There are 12 teachers at the school. “It’s not easy at all and each kid needs individual attention,” said one teacher. Since the school was established in January last year, it has been heavily dependent on donor funding and support from Government. However, as time progressed, these funds have run out with the increased numbers of children. Chairperson of the School Board Angula Kaunapawa said many of the parents come from very poor backgrounds and are unable to pay their children’s school fees. “A lot of these kids here are orphans and have no guardians or some parents cannot pay on time. But the school is running out of cash and these are poor people struggling to survive as well,” she explained. Since it is government policy not to expel children from school due to lack of payment, the parents are obliged to pay in kind by cleaning the yard or offering any other physical assistance. Squalid poverty is a common phenomenon in many squatter-like settlements and Five Rand Camp is no exception. As a result unemployment is high and people have no means of proper survival. Yet the establishment of the Five Rand Primary School was seen as a ray of hope for the hundreds of needy children to get proper education. “Before this children used to travel by foot to the Nau-aib location which is far away, and especially during winter the young ones suffered a lot,” added principal Nakapandi. That is why he feels it is imperative to keep the school going for as long as possible for the benefit of the children. In order to keep the school premises protected against vandalism and break-ins, the school principal noted that she pays between N$1 250 and N$1 300 to a private security company on a monthly basis. However, on the other hand such money is hard to come by with little financial resources. Without the necessary exercise books, lack of school uniforms, sports facilities and teaching materials, the school authorities are therefore urgently appealing to both the public and private sectors to assist them. Although Government has done its part in providing funds, there is not enough and all stakeholders are encouraged to lend a helping hand especially to squatter settlement schools and those in the rural areas.