Namibia: Not All Pupils Back At School

With schools opening in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, not every child has returned to class.

Some pupils at the JP Brand primary school at Utuseb village, situated about 45 km from Walvis Bay in the Namib Desert will only return to the rural boarding school in the second week of March.

These children were last in school on 16 March 2020 when learning was halted due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The principal, Anna-Maldrid Josti said although they wish to have the pupils back at school they too have to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations of social distancing especially in the already overcrowded hostel.

“If only we can have extra accommodation as the hostel can only accommodate 180 to 200 pupils. Before the pandemic the hostel catered for 319 learners with some sharing beds, which was not a problem then. But with the current situation everything has changed,” said Josti.

Because of logistics and the health regulations, the school cannot afford the proposed weekly rotation schedule and has opted to divide pupils into two groups.

One group attends school for six weeks and the school is fumigated over a weekend before the next group comes. This has left some learners to be home while learning is happening.

“Our learners have a huge backlog and with the current system we are losing out on time. It means we will always be five steps back that the rest of the region’s schools,” said Josti.

Apart from accommodation challenges the school also started during the first week of February because of renovations to the ablution facilities to conform with the Covid-19 regulations.

JP Brand primary school was built in 1979 for the Topnaar community, by the pioneer of the Namibian grid electricity, JP Brand. Over the years the school started enrolling children of fishing industry workers.

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