By Fikameni Mathias
A school opened by government a few years back to serve as a centre of excellence for children who come from poor backgrounds across the country has become a haven for children whose families are well-off.
There are confirmed allegations that the Rukonga Vision School in Divundu -which is supposed to be for smart learners who hail from disadvantaged families -has been recruiting a number of learners who do not meet the criteria.
In fact, some education inspectors have used their powers to send their children to the school.
Kavango East regional education director Fanuel Kapapero revealed this over the weekend during the opening of a Youth Conference in Rundu organized by the Young Achievers youth group.
While delivering his opening remarks, Kapapero said “the vision school has lost its vision after cases of the school enrolling learners from well-off families have emerged”.
Although he did not reveal any names, Kapapero said his office have verified information that learners who do not meet the criteria have infiltrated the school.
During a visit to the town, two months ago, community members made similar allegations, saying there are in fact no children from Divundu enrolled at the school.
The community members also accused the school leadership for allowing the corrupt enrolment coupled with nepotism, which saw children of teachers and close family members making the roll-call at the school.
“When I screened some of the learners, I found out that one learner was a child of a well-known manager at Old Mutual. Others are children of inspectors who we now know that they in a way squeeze their children into the system,” said a disappointed Kapapero.
Asked what his office was doing to rein in the situation, Kapapero said the problem stem from the regional educational directorates which are responsible for the selection.
“The issue is somehow complex because now we realized that these are our colleagues. It becomes very difficult to discipline your colleagues but it is still not right.
The concept of the Vision school has been developed in accordance with guidelines stated in the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP) – Pro-poor expansion of secondary education.
In 2013 the education ministry established the school in the most remote part of North Eastern Kavango, at Divundu targeting the most disadvantaged learners. This is a complete secondary school offering grades 8 to 12 to provide sustained, intensive educational support to disadvantaged learners from families with low levels of formal education.
While the Vision School intends to have national status and from the onset attracted a diverse and largely disadvantaged learner population from all 14 regions, this aims has not been fully honored.
The enrolment policy process, which starts from the regional offices, comes down to thorough screening through interview processes to ensure equity.
The process calls for a heterogeneous learner population reflecting the national make-up in terms of gender, socio-economic status and factors while also strong on a quota system to be applied with a 50-50 gender ratio.
In the second cohort intake, an aptitude test is conducted in all regions in local languages to determine linguistic proficiency (not English proficiency) and includes the ability to excel in mathematics and sciences.
The policy also calls for the use of appropriate mechanisms for the selection of special needs learners who may have been adversely affected as a result of their disadvantaged backgrounds.
When asked for comments on the allegations leveled against the school, school Principal Moses Gorengecho said he is not obliged to speak to the media, referring the journalist to the regional office.
“On record, I will not confirm or deny anything. Please ask the education regional director to answer on that,” Gorengecho responded.
Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Charles Kabajani was not available for comment.