Windhoek-Flood-affected learners in the Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati regions will attend classes as normal during the May school holiday, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has announced.
There are currently 27,007 learners and 102 schools in the Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and the Zambezi regions that are adversely affected by the floods.
Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said in order to ensure that learners do not lose out on receiving quality education, the ministry has assessed the situation in the three regions and is planning to conduct classes during the May holiday.
She said in the case of Zambezi Region, where the floods have just started,the ministry would close the affected schools and carry out an assessment in three weeks’ time to allow the learners to use the schools that are open in the upper-lying areas and thus to continue with classes during the school holiday.
Hanse-Himarwa said it should be noted that the situation in the Zambezi Region is somewhat different, as it requires the actual relocation of both teachers and learners from the flooded areas to higher ground.
Hanse-Himarwa said the ministry has developed regional contingency plans – especially for the flood-prone areas – and this has helped the ministry to some extent to lobby for funds within the ministry budget and to buy tents, that are used to shelter learners and teachers during periods of flooding.
The funds are limited, Hanse-Himarwa said, but the education ministry is challenged to meet the needs of the regions, as requested. She said in the most extreme cases the ministry is left with no other option but to close certain schools while continuing to provide basic amenities for the learners, such as tents and other facilities.
Omusati has the highest number of adversely affected schools: 73.
Hanse-Himarwa said most schools that were closed for about two weeks due to flooding, re-opened after the mid-term break, but noted that several buildings, especially ablution facilities, were submerged, as most had been damaged and will now required renovation.
In the Oshana Region about 10 schools were affected by the floods, including Oikango Combined School on the Eheke circuit, which is temporarily closed.
Hanse-Himarwa said all Grade 10 learners at the school have since been relocated to the Teachers’ Resource Centre.
She added that Omulunga Primary School, which has 99 learners, is also still closed, with the possibility of re-opening once learners are provided with tents for camping at school.
Lessons at Dr Chief Ankama Primary School have resumed in the meantime, she confirmed.
In Ohangwena, she said, four schools with 1,636 learners in total have been closed, including Omutaku Primary School, Shingunguma Primary School, Elao Primary School and Nghiteke Primary School.
She further said that three schools have been partially closed: Ohangwena Combined School, Etale Combined School and Onghala Combined School, with 543 learners affected.
“Four schools, which were closed, with about 748 learners have since re-opened,” she added.
On the situation in the Zambezi Region, Hanse Himarwa said the current level of the Zambezi River has reached 6.5 metres, which is considered a disaster to the education sector.
“The Zambezi Region is therefore considered the most affected region, as stated earlier,” she went on to say, noting that the region is experiencing extensive flooding. This has resulted in 12 schools in that region being affected, while the flood situation is still unfolding, she said.
“No school [in Zambezi Region] has been reported closed for now, but the water level is rising very fast and there are plans to immediately close schools, such as Nankutwe Combined School, Muzii Combined School and Ikaba Combined School, in the coming week, as there are no funds to relocate the learners and teachers.
She went on to say the flood situation facing some schools in the Zambezi Region is an annual occurrence that will perpetually disturb the teaching and learning process if no sustainable and lasting solutions are found and implemented as a matter of urgency.
She said, the region appears to be grappling with the situation year in and year out, as there seem to be no sustainable counter-measures in place to effectively deal with the negative effects of the annual floods on schools and learners in the area.