Katere-Learners at Linus Shashipapo Secondary School in Kavango East packed their belongings and left the school on Monday as they are frustrated that the government is taking too long to renovate the school that has fallen into a state of advanced disrepair.
Over a week ago learners handed a petition to the education director’s office. They demanded a positive response by last Friday, failure of which they would act.
The school has 631 learners and more than 400 of them live in the hostel.
“We are left with no other option but to go home since our demands have not been met by the specified date which was 27 January. We will be back only if we get a positive response,” said the Learners Representative Council (LRC) chairperson, John Mukwathi.
Monday morning Mukwathi also handed a copy of the petition to school board chairperson Raphael Shonga. Apart from falling apart the school has become a health hazard because its sewer pipes are leaking while its toilets cannot flush.
Learners further want mattresses and beds for learners in the hostel. They also want the dysfunctional toilets and showers to be repaired as well as renovation of the school “whose renovation is long overdue”.
“With due respect, our communicated date has reached its lifespan. We are also not happy with the few old mattresses that were delivered as they are old, and equally about those that we are having and are complaining of, again we say, our health and learning are surely compromised,” Mukwathi emphasised.
The school is in a such a state of advanced disrepair it needs major renovations or alternatively to be demolished and rebuilt, as its present state is unsuitable for learning.
The education directorate at Rundu has been informed about the messy hostel blocks, classrooms and ablution facilities at Linus Shashipapo Secondary School, which is situated 113 km east of Rundu in Ndiyona Constituency, as far back as 2004.
“We are exposed to a dangerous learning environment as learning is disturbed by many health circumstances such as lack of ablution facilities and the school having no fence at all,” Mukwathi further complained in the petition from learners.
The school was built in 1973 and since then no major renovations have taken place.
Initially the school was due for renovations in 2015/16 but to date nothing has been done and visitors to the school are met by a nauseating strong odour that makes it difficult to breathe. Over the years the condition of the school has been deteriorating drastically and some of the walls need to be demolished, as they have big cracks.
“I am receiving this petition from the learners and I will take it to Rundu to the director of education and hear from him on the way forward as the learners are tired, and we are tired. As the chairperson of the school board I am aware of the situation and everyone else is also aware of this situation which required urgent attention a long way back,” said Shonga.
“I don’t know when the learners will come back to class but when I get to the director’s office and I’m given a positive response I will go on air/radio to inform them and they can then come back to school,” Shonga added.
Acting director of education in Kavango East, Fanuel Kapapero, said the petition had not yet reached his office but he was informed by the circuit inspector about the situation.
“I will be in consultations with my colleagues from head office regarding the renovations as it is a capital project and it’s handled at head office. But for the beds and mattresses, we are looking into it urgently because learners need to be back at school and I hope our colleagues at head office see this issue as an emergency,” Kapapero said.