By Michael Liswaniso
Learners at Ruiter Primary School, some 50 km north-east of Opuwo, are boycotting classes this week because there is no food.
School principal Andreas Nerongo has confirmed the ongoing saga at his school, adding that he and some teachers had attempted but failed to persuade the learners to go back to class. The learners have boycotted classes since Monday, and have vowed to stay away until their problem is solved.
The school, with a population of 130 learners, has no hostel, with learners living in informal accommodation. The school heavily depends on government’s feeding programme.
Earlier this year in April, the school received 42 bags of maize meal weighing 12.5 kg each. Learners are fed twice a day – in the morning and evenings – contrary to the government feeding programme stipulation of one meal per day, New Era has learned.
The food supply ran out last week Friday and as a result most learners have been without food, forcing some of them to flock to the nearby villages in search of food.
Of the 130 learners of the school, according to Nerongo, only 18 learners are from the Ohandungu village that hosts the school, while 112 are from other outside places.
“The school has no funds at present. We have already informed other officials in the ministry but I am sure it is going to take long because now there is no storeroom in Opuwo compared to the past. I do not know where the maize meal is normally brought from,” said Nerongo.
According to parents and some members of the school board, the school has had the problem before. Hence, a parent and vice-secretary of the school board, Iteze Ua Tjisemo, has appealed to government to look into possibilities of setting up a formal hostel at the school.
“It would be better if there was a hostel at the school because this problem has been dragging on for years now. It is very disturbing, the learners are roaming around from one place to another in search of food,” said Tjisemo.
Tjisemo told New Era that as an interim measure, he and another parent, Rarirevi van der Merwe, put together some money to purchase a 50 kg bag of maize meal for the school recently after the supply run out.
“It is not easy for small kids to attend school without food or proper meals. It can easily lead to serious implications in future. That is why we decided to help,” said Madam Van der Merwe.
Tjisemo has also called upon all who can assist the school in any form to pledge support, adding that he has already approached prominent figures in the community for assistance, but nothing has come forth so far.
Even though some schools in Kunene, mainly in the Opuwo constituency, still face perennial water problems, Ruiter appears always hard hit by food shortages which forces some learners to leave school.
The school is also privileged to be fully electrified and has an operational clinic within the village.
Situated in Ohandungu village in the Epupa constituency, it is surrounded by six other villages.