MARIENTAL – ‘You are under arrest for denying your child a basic education,’ is a likely future statement from the new Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa to parents not sending their children to school.
Speaking at her farewell dinner as ex-governor of Hardap Region at Mariental on Saturday, Hanse-Himarwa said she is seriously considering criminalizing the issue of non-attendance of school, and jailing parents who do not ensure that their children are sent to school.
“I want it to be criminalized and if you are a parent of a seven-year-old child and that child is not in school, you must come to court and answer why that child is absent,” she said.
Parents who do not make an effort to send young children to school as well as those children above the age of 18 who refuse to go to school may risk being thrown into jail for not making an effort to get a basic education.
Hanse-Himarwa said not a single child in Namibia should be out of school while primary education is free with secondary education also about to be made free, adding that no child must be roaming the streets without attending school.
She emphasised that the only way Namibia can be made an enlightened nation is for it to compete on an equal footing with any other country in terms of development, and to do this its citizens would have to be educated and thus everybody must go to school and those who fail to take their children to school must be “criminally prosecuted”.
She added that it’s a criminal offence to deny a child access to education and by so doing deny that child wealth, the ability to read and see “as we cross more and more into the global village”.
The vibrant former governor of Hardap Region said if such action is taken there will be no kids roaming the streets as the parents would be arrested and the child shall be taken to school.
Intertwining poverty and hunger with education she said poverty can only be eliminated “if we have an educated nation and Namibia can not become the developed and industrialised country we want her to be with an illiterate society”.
Speaking in Afrikaans to a large crowd who came to bid her farewell she said no parent will be sitting in a house with a child that is supposed to be in school, “You will go to jail, you will go to jail grandma or grandpa if you don’t send a child to school.”
She urged the community members present to make education the top priority in their houses and to instill in themselves and their community a culture of learning and reading.
She also pleaded with the police to join efforts across the board and make sure that children stay where they belong and not in shebeens.