No classroom space for 1 200 Grade 1 learners

10 August 2017 | Columns

The inspector of education for the Walvis Bay ­circuit, Monica Gawises, says schools in the town are faced by a serious shortage of classroom space to accommodate Grade 1 learners in 2018.

“As things stand, we registered 1 981 Grade 1 learners for 2 018 and 1 200 learners may not get places due to limited space and classrooms available at schools in the town. The intake of Grade 1 learners increased sharply from 1 661 in 2 015 to 1 904 learners in 2017.”

!Nara Primary School has 250 learners, Flamingo Primary School 200, Immanuel Ruiters 30, Narraville Primary School 109 and Tutaleni Primary School 370 Grade 1 learners on their waiting lists for places.

Gawises appealed to the municipality of Walvis Bay to avail land to the ministry of Education free of charge for the construction of more schools. She also called on Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua to intervene and speed up the process and challenged the corporate world to in any way possible with the construction of new schools and classrooms.

Last year 1 753 Grade 1 learners were enrolled for 2017 at the 10 Primary Schools in the town, and for next year 1 031 learners were enrolled.

The sixteen schools in Walvis Bay accommodate 15288 learners. !Nara Primary School have the most learners (1 694) followed by Narraville Primary school (1 624). Gawises pointed out that 151 classrooms were constructed since 2011.

This number increased from 59 classrooms initially available. She attributed the increase in Grade 1 enrollments to parents arriving at the coast in search of job opportunities within the mining and fishing sectors.

“We introduced the platoon education system in 2014 due to the severe shortage of classroom space. Learners arrive at school from 7:00 and create disturbances. Many learners are also left unattended at homes while waiting for afternoon classes and this contributes to shack fires. It is also unsafe for learners to walk home late in the afternoon and this has resulted in a number of unsavoury after school incidents.”

Gawises also said the large number of learners at schools experienced due to the platoon system, have contributed to over congested school grounds. “The Junior Primary Curriculum has thus been compromised due to the lack of learning support. Learners are exhausted and do not concentrate in class. Periods have also been shortened. Teachers have to share classrooms and learners are not participating in sports and cultural activities.”

Gawises welcomed a N$610 000 sponsorship towards the construction of four Module Four classrooms at a project school in the backyard of Immanuel Ruiters Primary School in Kuisebmond from Namport via its Social Investment Fund on Tuesday.

Namport CEO Bisey /Uirab said he sincerely hoped the effort would create the much needed capacity to accommodate more learners in the mornings rather for them to have to wait until 13:00 to go to school due to space limitations.

/Uirab said Namport would work with the school to implement the project as soon as possible and that the investment was aimed at completely doing away with the platoon education system.

He also challenged corporate institutions to identify at least one or two schools to invest in and assist government to create an environment where every primary school learner receives uncompromised high-level education.