Swanu vice president raises concern over ‘free education’

Swanu vice president Alpha Kangueehi has questioned the implementation of free education in public schools in Namibia.

Speaking to Nampa in an interview, Kangueehi raised concern that the Government of Namibia promised free education but “has not done anything to accomplish this dream” as parents are still forced to pay ‘voluntary’ school fees.

“There is no free education as things stand now, parents are forced to pay for things like toilet paper, they are buying their own stationery, imagine some schools are asking for nine toilet paper rolls per child, it is an awkward situation. The government is failing us with the universal free education as it is a provision in our Constitution, honestly,” he said.

Kangueehi said the current situation will jeopardise the education system and has led to parents not sending their children to school anymore because of financial problems.

“If one goes to the ministry now they will be told that parents who cannot afford it, can negotiate with schools and be exempted from this voluntary contribution. Parents are begging to have their kids admitted because they cannot afford the so-called voluntary contribution,” he said.

He further said hostels are expensive and appear to cater for well-off families only.

“An impoverished parent cannot send kids to school hostels, and this is affecting our school performance as these kids are left to study under very challenging circumstances,” he said.

Responding to Kangueehi, Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture Public Relations Officer Esther Angula said the ministry is acting in accordance with the Education Amendment Act No. 14 of 2017, which introduces changes to Section 25 subsection 9(a) that addresses the parental contribution to school funds.

“The Act outlines that a School Development Fund (SDF) comprises funds gathered from various sources, including voluntary contributions from individuals, donations, bequests, and funds raised through approved fundraising campaigns or school-related activities endorsed by the principal and school board,” Angula said.

She noted that it is important to clarify that the contribution mentioned is intended to be a voluntary undertaking, as explicitly stated in the provisions of Act 14 of 2017.

“The Act emphasises the voluntary nature of these contributions and underlines that they should not be enforced as compulsory payments,” she indicated.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that this contribution is not solely limited to parents; academic sympathisers and supporters of education also have the opportunity to participate in this voluntarily, the PRO responded.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency