How Many Children Are Left Out?

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By William J. Mbangula Ongha The Director of Education in Ohangwena Region Josia Udjombala has urged his subordinates to vigorously approach the challenges of poverty, ignorance and HIV/AIDS that bars children from going to school. “I am saying this because in the final analysis the success of this region will not be measured by the number of children we have reached but those we have excluded.” Udjombala made the remarks at the official launch of the first-ever regional newsletter of the Ohangwena Education Directorate at Ongha Secondary School yesterday. The newsletter titled, ‘Oxungi kOlupale’ was launched as a regional mouthpiece of teachers, parents, learners and educational leaders to share their views, aspirations, concerns, successes and failures for the development of education in the region. Copies of the newsletter funded through own resources will be distributed to various schools, libraries, community centres, education forums, regional and local councillors as part of the sensitisation campaign of all stakeholders in education. The director reminded his audience, that included Deputy Director Martha Shikalakuti-Immanuel, teachers, learners, cluster heads and circuit inspectors, that as education officials in the region, they are entrusted with the care of one of the nation’s greatest responsibilities, namely, to ensure that the region becomes and remains excellent, competitive and a leader among other education regions. “Once again let me re-emphasise that the progress and success of this region and the education it offers depends very much on the commitment of all us, but most importantly, of the leaders. All over where progress has been strong, it is first and foremost because the leaders have committed energy, creativity and resources to get the children to school. “Such particular leaders know that by investing in the education of their population it will be a guaranteed road to stronger long-term economic development, better public health, and much more capable, active and engaged citizens.” Ohangwena Region has a learner population of 87 450 (Grades 1-12) with teaching staff of 2 974, Udjombala told New Era. There has been an increase of 38% in 2003, 41% in 2004 and last year 42%. “This year we intend to reach 45%. I know it is a long jump but this is our intention and we have to reach it. For us, what is important is the fact that each year we should make progress ….” With regard to the constant problems faced with the admissions in Grade 11, the Director of Education noted that some of the bottlenecks have been addressed. Come 2007, his region will have three new secondary schools offering Grades 11-12 at Shituwa (Endola circuit), Oshikunde (Ohakafiya circuit) and Ondobe. However, he expressed concern over a gradual tendency of learners dropping out of schools more especially those near the Namibian-Angolan border. He therefore appealed to the parents to ensure that children complete their school calendar as scheduled.

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