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No tribalism at Ella du Plessis

Dear sir,
Allow me space in your newspaper to speak for the voiceless parents in public schools.
Following a surprise visit to the Ella du Plessis High School on Tuesday, 3 April by Dr David Namwandi, Deputy Minister of Education, a second meeting was hastily arranged and held on Monday, 9 April.
While there was no agenda set for the meeting, the deputy chairperson of the National Council and councillor for the Khomasdal North Constituency, Margareth Mensah-Williams, broke the ice stating that the school was previously deemed to be “a school of excellence” but is now filthy. Mensah-Williams also said there is chronic absenteeism among teachers and learners and students are divided into cliques. “If you want to be a tribalist, out of Namibia!” she shouted.
When the Deputy Minister’s turn came, he emphasized the importance of Vision 2030 and that the young ones are expected to be “highly disciplined” in order to become the future leaders. Namwandi then focused on the issue of tribalism by stating that at the school, “there is one corner belonging to one tribe, the other tribes cannot go there.” He warned that such conduct has led to conflict in countries like Rwanda, Burundi and Sierra Leone. He then revealed that he was told that there are learners “taking drugs and tempting male teachers”.
When the parents and guardians were given a chance to speak, they raised various concerns including, lack of discipline, lack of parent involvement and that the school should rather focus on bullying, peer pressure and gangsterism among learners in the school rather than tribalism.
What was disappointing is that the Deputy Minister did not to allow the School Board’s chairperson, the school principal (Mr January) and some teachers to respond or give their side of the story. This was very frustrating because it did not help to call upon parents’ involvement without telling them the progress made by the school and the challenges faced by it. As one of the parents put it, the school was declared as having a “crisis”, but there was no clear explanation as to what it was and how the parents can be involved.
In defence of the existence of tribalism among the learners, Namwandi defiantly told the parents,  “My friend, what is happening here [at Ella du Pressis High School] is tribalism. Don’t defend it.”
What is being labelled as a “promotion of tribalism” at Ella du Plesis, is a group of boys who  created a no-go area in a certain area of the school. The girls from all tribes are also not welcome there. The same unruly boys attend classes with all other learners without any conflict. There is also no problems experienced in the hostels. We call the behaviour of the boys bullying, gang involvement or peer pressure. I am not saying tribalism may be promoted at that school. I strongly feel that dealing with a school problem using the term “tribalism” which is a political jargon will not bare the intended fruit. Otherwise, what will you say if the same group of boys were taking or forcing others to take drugs or alcohol in that corner of that school? If the issue is dealt with and investigated considering the possibility of bullying, gangsterism or peer pressure, then it will be easy to find out if there are internal or external forces using learners to promote their tribal agenda.
All indications are that Ella du Plessis suffers from a lack of leadership, coordination and discipline. It is unfortunate that Namwandi wishes the same school principal to continue after reaching his retirement in May 2012. Something needs to be seriously done to save the education of our children at Ella du Plessis High School, and in Khomas region!
A very concerned parent
Ella du Plesis High School
Khomas Education Region
Letter shortened – Ed

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