Khorixas-More than 120 parents who attended a meeting organized by the Kunene Education Regional Forum (KERF) at Khorixas on Tuesday decided that schoolchildren must not be allowed in the streets after 20h00 as one of the measures to curb rampant alcohol abuse among them.
“Do we agree that no children must be in the streets during the night?” Mistake !Hoaeb, chairperson of KERF, asked the parents, who responded ‘Yes.’
Parents also agreed that at night children must stay home, or in school hostels, reading.
Some parents called for children violating the curfew to be disciplined through detention but this call seemed to divide parents as some questioned where the offending children would be locked up. Warrant Officer Marianne Geises from Ruben Danger Ashipala Police Training College said underage children could only be sent to jail or detained if they commit a crime.
The meeting was convened following a recent incident in which dozens of pupils were suspended from school after they were caught drinking alcohol on the school premises and comes hot on the heels of concerns that underage drinking is spiralling out of control at Khorixas.
Some parents also wanted the suspension of learners from Welwitschia Junior Secondary School lifted as children were losing out on lessons during the suspension but the chairperson of the school board, Erwin /Howoseb, said the suspension would not be lifted.
/Howoseb advised parents to stop pampering children and instead take responsibility for them.
Khorixas Community Radio representatives told the gathering they started a campaign that discourages alcohol and drug abuse. The radio programme called Ha-A (No) started on Wednesday.
KERF chairperson !Hoaeb said the organization was created with the authorization of the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture. KERF has 17 members that are based at Outjo, Kamanjab, Opuwo, Sesfontien and Khorixas, amongst other towns in the region.
A parent who identified herself only as !Garas proposed that all bars and shebeens close at the same time.
“Why are bars not closing at the same time?” she queried.
!Garas also wanted to know whether there are enough police officers to undertake routine street patrols at night.
She further enquired what had happened to bicycles that the police were given by the Khorixas Constituency Office in 2013 to perform routine patrols to help reduce crime.
Khorixas station commander Inspector Hiskia Nuuyoma revealed there was a shortage of police at the north-western town and that the donated bicycles were not being used due to lack of funds to maintain them.
On the issue of some parents suggesting that identification be provided at bars to check the age of patrons she suggested that patrols could check up on underage drinkers to chase them from pubs.
Sebastian !Gobs, a former councillor for Khorixas Constituency, advised parents not to play a blame game but rather find concrete solutions.
“If there was no problem this meeting would not have happened, therefore we must not blame each other,” !Gobs said.
He also said there was a lack of responsibility amongst school boards and asked that KERF establish a branch in each constituency.
!Hoaeb said KERF has already taken up the matter of establishing smaller forums in each constituency throughout the region.
!Gobs also revealed that at some schools, principals overruled school board members and that school boards at times did not know their responsibilities, thus he proposed that school board members undergo induction training.
!Hoaeb said the Kunene education regional director already agreed to induction training. !Hoaeb told the attendees that principals only have powers to suspend and that school boards have the power to conduct disciplinary hearings.