Hostel shortage affects learning

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Staff Reporter

Ongwediva-A number of regional education directors feel the construction of school hostels in their regions would solve the poor living conditions of learners who currently squat in shacks and tents.

Some learners in Omusati Region live in dilapidated school buildings that have no windows, nor ceilings.

The rainy season only worsens the problem. Teachers, who preferred to remain anonymous when speaking to New Era, said rainwater destroyed learners’ books.

“When it rains, sometimes children are unable to collect firewood, but even if they manage to get firewood they have no place to make fire for cooking,” one teacher said.

The teacher based in Ohangwena said sometimes schoolbooks for learners would become wet as their shacks and tents leak during the rainy season.

Besides learners living in shacks, teachers said there were also learners forced to live with relatives or strangers who demand they do house chores even during exams.
Teachers said all these problems arose because of the lack of government hostels that would provide a more conducive place for learning.

In hostels there were few distractions such as learners having to perform house chores.
However, the situation is not unique to Ohangwena Region as a number of educational directors in the north-central and northeastern parts of the country confirmed.

Combined schools do not have hostels and circumstances force learners admitted at these schools, particularly in Grade 11 and 12, to find their own accommodation.
They find accommodation with either relatives or rent places far from their parents’ houses.

The situation is worse at combined schools in rural areas where learners make do with structures made from corrugated iron or grass.

These types of living conditions badly affect the quality of education, according to various education regional directors and teachers.

The learners not only have to endure harsh weather conditions but also various other social challenges.

The accommodation problem tends to affect Grade 11 and 12 learners more, but it also has an impact on learners at primary schools.

In Ohangwena Region for example, talk about the poor living conditions of learners at Oshamukweni Combined School circulated on social media.
The learners live in shacks and tents on the school premises.

Meanwhile, learners at Amaupa Primary School in Omusati Region squat at the headman’s house.

In Zambezi Region learners at one combined school also have to camp at the school premises.

Similar conditions exist in Oshikoto where the regional director, Lamek Kafidi, said building hostels for the affected learners offered the only solution to the problem.
Kafidi explained that the reason why primary school learners have to endure exposure to such harsh condition was the location of the schools.

Some schools in his region and some neighbouring region are situated in areas originally intended only as cattle post.

Omusati Education Regional Director Laban Shapange whose region faces a similar challenge said they recently constructed a hostel at one of the schools in the region.

“Children are just not at peace. Sometimes they don’t have enough food, and those that rent in town have to worry about transport to school.

“Some places where learners rent accommodation are located behind bars where children are exposed to noise. These learners are vulnerable to alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy,” he said.

Ohangwena Education Director Isack Hamatwi said, that although a lack of accommodation affected some learners, this did not mean they left the learners unsupervised.

All learners who lived in shacks at schools without accommodation lived under the strict supervision of their teachers.

This, he said, had helped to improve the pass rate at schools in the Ohangwena Region.

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