Most the classrooms and hostel blocks that burned down as a result of an electric failure at Dibasen Junior Secondary School before independence are yet to be repaired.
The situation has left hordes of prospective learners in a dilemma, as they are either forced to enroll at other schools or cater for their own accommodation.
Just a year before independence, tragedy struck the Dibasen Junior Secondary School at Okombahe, 60 km west of Omaruru, with two hostel blocks (for boys and girls) and nearly 20 classrooms going ablaze. Three technical classes and laboratories were also scorched down.
It is said that the school was the target of several politically motivated arson attacks in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The fire, at the time, left close to a 100 learners roofless who were consequently sent home due to the lack of accommodation and classrooms.
Learners at the time lost blankets and clothing when the heavy fires brought down the lockers and other school stationaries including desks and chairs that were in the classrooms. The education ministry after the incident promised to solve the matter but nothing has been done to date.
Today, the school can only accommodate a mere 320 learners, but before the fire destroyed the hostel blocks it could house 800 to 1000 learners. Of the 320 learners, 70 percent are accommodated in the two blocks left of the hostel. Since the school is the only junior secondary school in the area, it has become hard for learners to find placement, with many being pushed to look elsewhere.
The nearest schools from Dibasen Junior Secondary School are in Omaruru and in Uis, both about 60 kilometres from the Okombahe settlement.
“We have no choice but to turn the learners away because we do not have space to take them in. We have tried seeking for help from the regional director’s office but the answer is always the same – ‘there is no money and that the government has other competing priorities,” said school Principal Ausbert Siboli.
Siboli added that under strident circumstances, they are forced to advise learners to register for Namcol classes, especially for the grade 10 failures. The school last year (2017) recorded a 31.9 percent pass rate from 188 full time pupils. This means that out of a population close to 4000 of Okombahe, the settlement sends out about 60 learners annually for higher grade schooling elsewhere.
According to Siboli, a tender was awarded to a Chinese company to rehabilitate the school but that did not start due to the unavailability of funds from the government’s side.
“So we are left to do with what we have. We are unable to get support from the community as most of the inhabitants here are unemployed. So you cannot really rely on them to help rebuild the school,” he said.