Eveline de Klerk
Walvis Bay-John Awaseb, the deputy director of education in Erongo Region, says there are simply no funds on hand to build new schools to accommodate the about 1,100 Grade 1 learners next year, who could not be accommodated in recent placements.
Responding to an inquiry from New Era with regard to the Grade 1 classroom shortage that continues to grow at the coastal town of Walvis Bay, Awaseb said they have no choice at present but to use tents to accommodate the additional learners.
The children currently being registered are mostly from private pre-primary schools, as pre-primary classes at government schools were already full to capacity last year, resulting in parents enrolling their kids in private institutions.
Only 350 Grade 1 and 200 pre-primary children will be enrolled in seven primary schools here next year. Walvis Bay currently has seven primary schools.
Hundreds of parents turned up at Kuisebmond Community Hall to register their children for Grade 1 at Tutaleni Primary school and !Nara Primary School, but unfortunately the two schools can only accommodate 38 and 35 new Grade 1 learners next year, respectively.
Awaseb yesterday told New Era that Grade 1 placements remain a challenge for Walvis Bay and that the need for least two new lower primary schools at Walvis Bay and one in Swakopmund was identified in the past.
“Research was conducted, hence the need to construct more schools was already identified. We also obtained land at Walvis Bay for the construction of the schools. However, a lack of funds has halted our plans,” he said. Awaseb acknowledged that government schools at the harbour town are full to capacity, stating that the 1,100 learners could unfortunately also not be accommodated through afternoon classes either.
The schools are already hosting afternoon classes and thus it was impossible to add more classes, as there is just no space. In fact, the schools are normally built to accommodate about 600 learners, but schools at Walvis Bay on average accommodate about 1,400 learners.
This puts added pressure on infrastructure that results in money being spent on repairs, he explained.
Awaseb said their only option at present is to accommodate the learners in tents, although it is not the ideal solution. “We do not have a choice, as education needs to be accessible to all,” he said.
He added that although alternative structures and extra classrooms could be used to accommodate learners it is not practical in the long run, as adding more classrooms makes the schools unmanageable and could result in learners performing poorly, whilst alternative structures have a shorter lifespan and could be easily replaced, unlike brick structures.