Govt to build 512 classrooms

DAILY BATTLE … Grade 7 pupils at Nankuntwe Combined School in the Zambezi region being taught in a dilapidated mud structure. The government says it is in the process of building 512 classrooms to remedy the situation.
… Consultations for new semester based cycle gather steam

Executive director of education, arts and culture Sanet Steenkamp on Wednesday announced that the ministry would build 512 new classrooms across the country.

She said the ministry constructed about 510 classrooms in high-demand areas last year.

“The ministry has developed a plan which identifies and costs immediate infrastructural needs, which aims to adhere to the agreed teacher-pupil ratios, while ensuring that pupils do not travel long distances, which discourages them from going to school,” she said.

Steenkamp previously told The Namibian that the ministry concluded the construction of 537 classrooms and 77 sanitary stations over a period of five months for the 2023/24 financial year, which cost N$225 million.

The implementation plan for the recommendations of the National Conference of Education 2022, Steenkamp said, acts as the ministry’s roadmap to ensuring inclusive, quality and equitable education.

“This includes the accelerated infrastructure, the professionalisation of our teachers, digitalisation and ensuring a healthy school environment,” she said.

On sold-out applications and application fees, Steenkamp said the ministry would reflect on data presented by the regions to address any related challenges.

The ministry has announced the commencement of applications for grades 1 and 8 for 2025 from 15 May to 14 June. Director of education, arts and culture Paulus Nghikembua says schools are not allowed to sell application forms for more than N$10.

He says selling application forms for N$50 breaches a ministry directive.

Sanet Steenkamp

“We have sent out a directive that says the schools can only ask a maximum of N$10,” he says.

In 2023, the ministry warned schools against charging parents for applications, saying admission should not be turned into a “money-making scheme”.

Maanga, an aunt of twins needing placement in Grade 1 in 2025, this week said she was denied two application forms by a school when she could not provide hard copy proof that she needed two applications.

“When I got into the office I saw there were about four applications left, and I told her I needed two applications. She said I needed to provide two certified copies of the twins’ birth certificates,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is consulting on whether to continue with the current semester-based school calendar system into 2025 or revert to the old trimester-based one. The consultations are being done via a comprehensive survey currently floating online. Speaking to Desert Radio on Thursday, Steenkamp said: “We are hoping that the ongoing consultations will be concluded soon. We will implement the recommendations at the end of the period and decide on the best way forward.”

The ministry changed from the trimester calendar system to a semester-based one during the Covid-19 era in order for pupils to have winter holidays of June and July in order to mitigate the risk of infections.

Since then, the ministry said notable concerns have been raised by many parents, teachers and members of the public concerning the “length of the semesters, fatigue among pupils, difficulty in curriculum planning, etc”.

“In light of the concerns raised by stakeholders and in recognition of the importance of ensuring an optimal learning environment for pupils, the ministry has resolved that comprehensive consultations be conducted with the public and all stakeholders in order to gather feedback and insights regarding the best calendar option for 2025 and going forward.”

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