The long distance learners at Omuhonga, where there is no school hostel, have to endure has compelled 167 learners to sleep under trees.
The school is situated about 120 km from Opuwo on the road to Epupa Falls in the Kunene Region.
Learners at the primary school sleep in the open despite the extremely cold weather and they are usually drenched during the rainy season.
The learners share linen and blankets that are in some cases donated by Good Samaritans.
“The learners opt to sleep outside when it is not raining, however, when it rains they move into a tent. But it also doesn’t make much of a difference because only the rooftop is covered while the sides remain open,” said a source.
Apart from sleeping out in the open, learners continue to endure chilly weather when they bath in their self-made rudimentary ablution structures made from tree branches and leaves.
The learners use pit latrines donated by some German-speaking people.
In addition, these learners survive on two meals a day. Their first being the morning porridge provided by the government through the school feeding programme and the second is in the afternoon sustained by community donations.
“We depend on Good Samaritans to provide a second meal to these children, but they are always guaranteed their second meal every day,” says a source at the under-resourced rural school.
The school that was upgraded to a permanent fixed structure from a mobile one was established in 2008. Prior to 2008, the school was a mobile school where the teachers travelled with the families where they would find good grazing. Despite the harsh exposure of sleeping out in the open, the source believes a guardian angel has been protecting the learners over the years, as there have been no attacks on the learners.
“We worry about their safety, but so far we have not recorded any major hiccup except for this one time when they were bitten by scorpions. But they were immediately treated at the school,” said a source. Despite the harsh conditions the learners at the school have to endure, the end result has been satisfying with the school graded second in English and third in Mathematics in the entire Kunene Region.
A source says besides the harsh circumstances, the learners have been doing exceptionally well and the school has so far managed to produce a few teachers as students currently admitted at the University of International Management.
Although the school would have wanted to accommodate the learners in the two brick structures, it would still be impossible to fit them in, as these also serve as classrooms and double as a storeroom and an office for the teachers.
Some learners are taught in tents at the school. Teachers at the school also live in the tents while some have constructed their own houses.
Kakuva Kuma, the principal at the school, says with the state of accommodation at the school attracting qualified teachers remains a challenge.
At the moment, there are only three qualified teachers and most of them are studying. Kakuva says besides the accommodation challenge, water is also a concern because currently the school shares water with a community from a solar water pump.