MORE than thirty children at one school in the Kavongo West region are not attending school mainly because of the long distances that they have to travel to access education.
The Mpungu Circuit Education Inspector, Jafet Siteketa, said the most affected group are children from the San community, with many of them dropping out of school before completion not only due to the long distances travelled, but because of cultural practices such as early marriage and child labour.
The learners are reportedly from the Bravel Mankumpi Senior Primary School, a school situated about 120 km from Mbungu Circuit south of the Kavango West region.
The school has classes from pre-primary to grade 7.
Siteketa said when they arrived at the village to assess the situation; some of the children ran away thinking that they would be arrested for an unknown crime.
“These people are really suffering. Poverty has hit hard this side. We have observed that most of these children’s parents are pensioners and therefore don’t have enough money to provide for their children,” said Siteketa.
He added that the learners are expected to do chores such as cattle herding, hunting and caring for the homestead, with getting an education the least of their priorities.
So severe is the situation, that grade 6 now only has 6 learners attending school, grade 7 a total 11 learners and grade 5 a total 15 learners still in school.
The most populated class is grade 2, which currently has a total 44 learners.
The school has a total 102 girls enrolled and 80 boys.
Despite the challenges, Bravel Mankumpi Senior Primary School is the best performing school in the standard achievement tests (SATs) for grade 5 and in the circuit.
Siteketa noted that they are planning to complete work on a hostel before the end of the year to accommodate children who have to travel long distances in the hopes that it will reduce the number of learners dropping out of school.