Anker to demonstrate over pupils’ relocation

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Clemans Miyanicwe

KAMANJAB – Some parents at Anker have expressed their intention to demonstrate next week on Monday over the relocation of their children, due to frequent tremors, to Fransfontein, which is located about 50 kilometres away.
Anker is situated at the epicentre of Kaoko Orogenic Belt, which is a regional tectonic unit on the north-west coast of Namibia.

According to Piet /Uirab, Anker community committee member, parents of pupils at Edward //Garoeb Primary School are unhappy over the planned relocation of their children to Fransfontein settlement as the school needs renovation and the hostel is currently in an awful state.

“Nothing, no renovations, is happening at Fransfontein. We won’t allow this relocation,” /Uirab fumed. Earlier this month at a meeting attended by about 85 people, the Anker community committee was mandated to raise concerns on the issue. The meeting was also attended by headwoman Monica Ubites and her husband who represented the /Gaio Daman Traditional Authority.

Some parents claimed they have been left in the dark on the relocation and they also want to know whether the relocation would be permanent or temporary.

Parents want a new school to be built at a nearby place.
/Uirab, who operates a business at Anker, said: “You as a journalist know about the awful state of that school. You have even covered it.”

The Anker committee member is concerned because renovations have not started yet despite the fact schools will reopen next week.

“Will the education directorate complete the renovations in these remaining four days?” /Uirab questioned.
On May 26, pupils, hostel staff and teachers are expected to be transported to Fransfontein settlement but /Uirab is concerned about who will foot the hostel bill. Some parents are also concerned about whether their children will fit into a new environment comprising of tents.

/Uirab furthermore questioned whether some children will be provided with toiletries since they reside with their parents and share toiletries at Anker settlement. “Drought has killed some livestock and some parents have nothing to sell to take care of their children,” emphasised /Uirab.

On a building that suffered structural damage and ended up with gaping cracks at the Edward //Garoeb Primary School, he said the cracks were already there and the building had to be closed by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture long before tremors became frequent.

Outjo circuit inspector Amutenya Thomas told New Era yesterday that a meeting would be held this Friday together with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Mines and Energy, which is expected to give a report on the tremors.
“Parents are informed about the relocation. Government will provide transport to pupils and staff,” Amutenya said.
Pupils will also be transported back to Anker over weekends.

On the concerns over the payment of hostel fees, Amutenya lashed back saying, “They have parental responsibilities. Whose food do they expect their children to eat if they don’t want to pay the hostel fees?”

Amutenya further said there is nothing like a free meal and parents should assist the government. According to the Outjo circuit inspector only a few children at Edward //Garoeb Primary School come from home. /Uirab said he will take up the issue with the ombudsman as well as the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, if the relocation takes place. When asked if some businessmen are instigating community members to oppose the relocation, /Uirab responded, “Not at all.”

Sources at the Kunene Regional Council, whom New Era spoke to, claimed Anker community members are being instigated by certain businessmen and that politics was another driving factor.
Edward //Garoeb Primary School has 327 pupils and 15 teachers.

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