Ghetto School Has ‘Big Heart’

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By Frederick Philander SWAKOPMUND In its short existence of just more than two years the Hanganeni Primary School on the eastern outskirts of the coastal town of Swakopmund has grown by leaps and bounds in learner numbers and staff. This was the view of the school’s first full-time principal, Clementine Garises, during a recent on-the-spot interview with her in her office at the town. “This school primarily provides educational services to the very low income bracket of workers in the local community in the informal DRC settlement, a special project, which is supported by the European Union,” said Garises, just before she got some of the senior learners together for an excursion to Walvis Bay. “This little excursion is historic in the sense that our learners seldom get such opportunities due to their socio-economic backgrounds consisting of parents working as domestics and in other manual jobs in and around the town. The Ministry of Education saw it fit to erect the school here among the dunes to be closer to the community,” Garises said. Most of the town’s schools are situated very far from the DRC informal settlement, bursting at its seams with a growing migrant population.. “The social status of our learners to say the least is very humble because of their parents’ employment and economic status, but that doesn’t mean that they do not educationally excel in their work. On the contrary, most learners at this school are dedicated and committed in their work and do just as good as learners at other schools in the town,” she said proudly. According to Garises the school primarily depends on donations from everywhere and anywhere. “Most of the learners cannot at all afford the N$150 school fees per year, forcing me and my staff to be perpetually on the lookout for possible sponsorships. Many of the volunteer teachers from abroad have been assisting us in our efforts to raise school funds abroad among their friends and families. Unfortunately, the local business fraternity are rather hesitant in assisting us,” said Clementine with determination. “I want to show the country and the world at large there is nothing wrong with the so-called low class type of learners. They are human beings and there is nothing wrong with their brains. In fact, they are the potential future doctors, engineers and even the political leaders of this country,” Garises said optimistically. She believes that hers is the smallest school with only 274 learners and a staff component of only 9, but that it has a big heart. “I am an executive member of the regional branch of the Namibia National Teachers Union and hold a B.Ed degree. I have been overseas studying labour issues in Italy and science in America before taking up the post as principal of this school,” Garises.

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