Epukiro community must come to the party!

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One cannot but appreciate and be thankful that such philanthropic gestures are still very much alive in this era of greed, especially in modern day Namibia where giving is hard to find these days, while grabbing has become the norm.

I make reference here to the generosity and philanthropy of Dr Paul Kozak, who this week donated school uniforms, stationary and study materials such as mathematics sets to San pupils at the Epukiro Junior Secondary School.

The school is situated Post 3 settlement, also known as Omauezonjanda, in the Epukiro constituency of Omaheke region.

Kozak extended a helping hand to 35 marginalised children, and the donation surely fell like manna from heaven for the school, which late last year was very much in the news for its string of misfortunes.

“Striking, dirty water greets donors at Epukiro JSS”, screamed a headline in the lead story in the New Era youth edition, Youth Corner, towards the end of last year. The article was about the dilapidated state of the facilities at this school.

One would have thought the past Christmas festive season, while pupils were on holiday, would have allowed for the necessary renovations to take place and make it possible for pupils to return to a better learning environment this year.

Imagine once surprise then, to recently learn that the situation remains the same, and the children returned to the same unhygienic situation. This situation is not conducive to preparing the leaders of tomorrow.

One school at the coast is in a similar state of rot and health officials have declared it unfit for human habitation. One cannot help but wonder whether this is because these schools are in Epukiro or in rural areas, that the authorities deem such appalling conditions acceptable?

Last year retired footballers from the constituency united to form a team called the Epukiro Masters Club.

They organised activities at the school, entailing a clean-up campaign in the sprawling, backward settlement of Omauezonjanda, which is the unofficial capital of the Epukiro Constituency.

These activities prompted visits by all and sundry, including officials from the regional education office and the broader Epukiro community who came to see the sad state in which the school is in with their own eyes. As the New Era headline last year testified to, it is a shocking situation.

However, this is not a situation unique to Epukiro SSS alone. The hostel of the Good Hope Primary School, a few kilometres away in the next village of Okovimburu is in a similar predicament.

This prompted the school board chairperson to make an impassioned appeal, especially to alumni of the school, to rally behind the school and do something about the unbearable conditions at the school hostel.

Early this year, I visited this school to familiarise myself with the squalid conditions at the two schools. Shocking is the only word to describe the state of decay and disrepair at the two schools.

These schools were once the pride of the constituency, where many well-known names started their education, including Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Vocational Training Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo and Dr Theo Kamupingene.

However, seeing the schools in the current condition one finds it difficult to associate them with such distinguished names.

In fact, doctors have directly linked the unhygienic condition at the hostels with the poor state of health of many learners.

People have known about the situation at Good Hope School Primary School for some time, and they could hardly avoid noticing given the blocked sewage pipes.
Just as in the case of the school at Epukiro Post 3, one would have hoped pupils would have returned to an improved situation this year, but this was not the case.

However, one cannot help asking about role relevant communities themselves intend to play in these matters, especially the former learners.

Surely, they are as much aware of the conditions at these schools as anyone else, but what have they done about it?

The Epukiro Masters Club and a few others, among them traditional leaders, and lately the philanthropist doctor have paved the way. It is now for the rest of the community to follow suit.

Epukiro is known as one of the most troublesome areas in Namibia, if the unending internecine wars among its cultural groups are anything to go by.

While the people of this constituency remain forever stuck and preoccupied with their palace revolutions and internal strife, it seems like the proverbial grass that suffers when two elephants fight.

The learners in the constituency may be paying the ultimate price for the wrangling and disunity in this area.

The leaders of the various feuding cultural groups are too busy and consumed with their own feudal pre-occupations to take any notice, or show any concern about the derelict conditions at these schools.

Epukiro, its feuds aside, is one constituency that has shown loyalty to the governing Swapo party since Independence up to this day.

Since it became a constituency in its own right, after being severed from the Otjinene constituency, Swapo has run the constituency, starting with Brave Tjizera, then Kaukuata-Mbura and now the incumbent councillor Cornelius Kanguatjivi.

Notwithstanding the seeming lack of development in the constituency, can there really be any justification for subjecting learners in the constituency to such atrocious conditions?

Not to mention, that indeed no learners in any constituency, whether run by a Swapo councillor or not should be subjected to such glaring neglect as the learners at Epukiro and Good Hope schools.

As we are now well into 2017, the resolve should be that someway, somehow no learners should be allowed to continue receiving their education in such unhygienic and hazardous conditions.

Certainly, the community cannot sit idle and watch their children rotting in these conditions instead of learning, while hoping that the government or the likes of the good doctor will one day do something about the situation.

They must stand up so that the government can find them at least trying to do something about the conditions their children have to suffer.

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