Clean water remains a challenge at schools

By Michael Uugwanga

THE provision of clean running water and functional sanitation facilities still remains a big challenge for the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, minister Ester Anna Nghipondoka has said.

She was speaking recently in the National Assembly during the Ministry’s update on the resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning for grades 11 and 12; and schools’ readiness for phase two.

Nghipondoka said her ministry had availed N$600 million for the renovation and expansion of school and hostel infrastructure countrywide, but added that implementation of this project could take longer than expected.

The notable schools that need serious attention from Government are David Sheehama Secondary School and Onesi Senior Secondary School both in Outapi in Omusati region, with problems such as lack of clean running water dating back many years.

Nghipondoka confidently said that she is hoping problems at these particular schools to be solved within two to three weeks.

“Regardless, schools should be commended for initiatives and in most cases their positive outlook in continuing education during the implementation. Regions are actively busy with the process of construction and renovation of facilities and the Ministry has developed standards for the reopening of schools, and schools that do not meet these standards will not resume operations for phase two.

“I therefore, strongly call upon all school principals to be honest in the assessment of their compliance standard checklists so that we do not put the lives of staff members and learners in jeopardy.”

Nghipondoka said that her ministry is ready to roll-out the feeding programme in all 14 regions; a scheme designed specifically to serve learners from households that do not provide them with a meal.

“With regards to the Namibia School Feeding Programme (NSFP) offered to primary school learners, half of the regions do not have adequate individual utensils for NSFP and protective clothing including gloves for the food handlers. Orders have been placed for the above mentioned items but still await delivery. Rest assured that all regions will be prepared to commence the NSFP by 3 August 2020 when schools resume”.

The Ministry of Education also assured parents that, once a school records an infection of a learner or staff member that school would immediately close.

Since the resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning, two Covid-19 positive cases involving learners from Mariental Secondary School in Hardap region and at Mweshipandeka Senior Secondary School in Oshana were recorded.

“Once a school records an infection of a learner or staff member, the school will be closed immediately and the Ministry of Health and Social Services surveillance team will take over to disinfect the school premises and observe the situation for 14 days. All schools have identified a room or corner to be used as sick bays in case a need arises,” said Nghipondoka.