333 schools, 16 hostels in Kavango
30 October 2019 | Local News
This situation leads to many children dropping out of school.
Some learners are accommodated in dilapidated church buildings as their parents have nowhere else to put them.
For the past 10 months Ewi lyaNooli has observed how boys of school age become cattle herders or fishermen, while girls stay at home, helping their parents with household chores such as fetching firewood and water.
Although there are many factors that can result in a learner quitting school, the lack of hostel accommodation in the two regions is a major one.
For regions such as Kavango East and Kavango West, where there are few towns and few secondary schools, school hostels are crucial.
Some children are fortunate to find a place in the few available hostels, but the rest must find alternative accommodation near their schools.
Those who cannot do so, have no option but to walk dozens of kilometres every day.
Kavango West has 176 schools and Kavango East 157 schools, but the two regions together have only 16 hostels.
In an interview with Ewi lyaNooli, Kavango West education director Teopolina Hamutumua and Kavango East education director Fanuel Kapapero explained how the lack of hostels has affected the education system.
According to Hamutumua, the 176 schools in Kavango West have only four hostels.
“The situation is very bad because the schools are too many and the hostels we have do not address the need,” Hamutumua said.
In some communities parents and community members have joined hands to build what is known as community hostels.
These community hostels consist of temporary structures or huts, which are overcrowded because of the high demand. Parents and community volunteers provide the food and cook for the children.
Although acknowledging the contribution of the communities to set up community hostels, Hamutumwa said that was not the way to go, as the hostels are not sustainable.
He said the funding model of the community hostels, which is based on voluntary contributions by parents, becomes a challenge when the parents and guardians are unable to afford food or other basic necessities.
Hamutumua also spoke about the problems caused by overcrowding at government hostels.
She said because of the high demand for hostel accommodation, these buildings are housing double the number of children they were designed for.
At schools like Leevi Hakusembe Secondary School, the overcrowding results in regular sewer blockages.
“It is a situation we are not happy about, but that is the reality on the ground. It also comes with challenges including the fixing of the sewer system every now and then because the learners are too many,” she said.
When asked what was being done to address the problem, Hamutumua said the regional office has informed the head office of its challenges, which include the need for building more hostels in the region.
But because building a new hostel is a costly exercise, the best solution during the economic downturn is to expand existing hostels to accommodate more learners.
“I think that adding blocks to already constructed hostels instead of building a new one, which is costly, is the approach we should take,” Hamutumua said.
Concurring with Hamutumua, Kapapero said more hostels need to be built in the region, especially in the inland areas.
Kapapero said there is no primary school with a hostel in the inland area of Kavango East.
Kapapero said secondary schools such as Meyuva and Shamangoro are also in need of hostels.