By Frederick Philander
More than 580 000 learners and 20 000 teachers are expected to start the new school year at 1 500 government schools countrywide this morning.
Until yesterday many Grade 10 learners of the more than 16 000 failures of last year tried desperately to gain readmission in some secondary schools in the capital in line with the Head of State’s request that failures should be readmitted.
“We are very confident that everything will run smoothly when the schools reopen tomorrow morning, that will be our biggest test,” said the Ministry of Education’s senior public relations officer, Toivo Mvula, yesterday afternoon.
Mvula said some minor problems that had cropped up until yesterday were satisfactorily resolved.
At Jan Jonker Secondary School in Katutura yesterday, parents and Grade 10 learners literally pleaded to be readmitted to the school.
“Under the Ministry of Education’s strict criteria I am only allowed to readmit 20 Grade 10 learners who failed last year. The enrollment of 880 learners for the new school year has already stretched our resources and abilities to the limit,” said principal Alistaire Pitt during a short press interlude at his school yesterday morning.
According to him the Ministry of Education’s criteria for readmission of failed Grade 10 learners had to be strictly adhered to.
“Only Grade 10 learners who marginally failed with an impeccable conduct record, could be readmitted. The learners older than 17 years at enrollment yesterday could not be accommodated.
“Other conditions for such admissions had been that no extra teachers be appointed at schools and there should be enough textbooks and desks at such schools,” Pitt said whilst attending to the pleas of a school parent trying to get his child readmitted.
The principal of Dawid Bezuidenhout Secondary School, one of the biggest in the Khomas Region, Dennis Fredericks, was adamant that his school could not readmit any Grade 10 failures, of the 43 percent that failed last year.
“We simply could not accommodate any such learners because the enrollment already exceeded 1 200 this morning,” Fredericks said.
By his own admission he is disappointed in the Grade 10 results of last year at his school.
“It is beyond my own comprehension that despite the very conducive educational atmosphere, the resources and facilities as well as the quality teaching methods by the teachers at the school, the results were far below our expectations.
“The solution would be that the staff needs to collectively work harder this year to achieve better all-round results at the end of this year,” he said.