WHILE going back to school for some learners only comes with the stress of maintaining good grades, for many others a new struggle emerges.
To avoid travelling long distances daily to school and back, over 100 learners from Oshamukweni Combined School in Okongo circuit, with the help of their parents, put nail to corrugated iron sheet and built shacks to accommodate them.
The school principal, Werner Nangolo, in an interview with Informanté said that the school does not have a hostel facility despite being difficult to access for some learners.
Those not accommodated at the makeshift structures have to travel to school by foot or donkey cart.
The learners staying on the school grounds in shacks collect their own wood and cook their meals themselves.
They also made beds with wood that they collected.
According to Nangolo, last year a total 104 learners out of the 300 registered at the school, were living in shacks on the school grounds.
He said children as young as eight live in these shacks because they are unable to walk long distances to school and back.
On weekends, the children travel back to their homes.
He added that currently, 172 learners live at far away villages and some have sought accommodation from houses closer to the school.
Nangolo, who also lives in one of the shacks, said that the accommodation also houses some of the teachers because the only two available teacher houses are full to capacity as they accommodate six teachers.
“Building shacks at the school is the better option because learners are often tired from walking long distances and this is a distraction to their learning. We have written letters asking for donations and proper structures, but we are still waiting,” he said.
Nangolo added that accommodation is not the only challenge.
“We currently only have five concrete classrooms, which cater for grades zero, one, two, three and eight. Other learners are taught in corrugated iron sheet classrooms. I am appealing for assistance of any kind,” Nangolo said.
Nalitongwe Theodor, a resident of the Oshalumbu village and a teacher at a different school, said that someone donated a number of mattresses to Oshamukweni, but more needs to be done.
“I am appealing to government to assist these learners and create a better learning environment because even classrooms are in a poor state. Goats are just walking in and out and when it rains there are leakages. These children cook for themselves outside. They have to get their own food,” she said.
The Director of Education in Ohangwena region, Isak Hamatwi, said that government is aware of the situation at the school, however, there are other school in the region with the same challenge.
“There are a lot of schools like that and government has built hostels at other schools with worse conditions even. The challenge we have is insufficient resources. We are doing the best we can to assist everyone, but there is a scramble for resources. The economy is not doing so well at the moment,” Hamatwi said, adding “We are building Rome. Rome was not built in one day.”